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Linnets and Valerians

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  1,722 Ratings  ·  116 Reviews
Locked away in separate rooms as punishment by their ruthless grandmother, Nan, Robert, Timothy and Betsy decide to make their escape—out of the house, out of the garden and into the village. Commandeering a pony and trap, the children and their dog are led away as the pony makes his way nonchalantly home. The pony’s destination happens to be a house that belongs to the ch ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 31st 2001 by Puffin (first published 1964)
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Lisa Vegan
I’ve long since given up my smug assertion that others my age were deprived by missing reading certain of my favorite childhood books. Well, I admit not that long, but it’s been about 16 months, which is when I joined Goodreads and found so many books that I’ve missed. Linnets and Valerians is one of those books. What’s sad for me is that it was published in Great Britain in 1964; I was 10 or 11. It’s that 9-10 or maybe 8-11 year old range that I would have adored this book; it’s a shame I wasn’ ...more
Jan 11, 2015 Jane rated it it was amazing
I was delighted when the Hesperus Press reissued ‘Linnets and Valerians’ a while ago, but I was disappointed that the title was changed to ‘The Runaways.’ It’s so much less intriguing and it rather misses the point; this not so much a book about running away as a book about finding the right place in the world, and playing the right role.

That was the only thing that disappointed me – everything else I loved!

The Linnet children were sent to live with their elderly grandmother when their father wa
Jackie "the Librarian"
Sep 13, 2008 Jackie "the Librarian" rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: ages 8-12
Recommended to Jackie "the Librarian" by: Sherri Murphy-Jacobs
Shelves: childrensbooks, magic
This is one of those stories about four children, in this case four brothers and sisters, getting into mischief in amusing ways. The descriptions take you to this English town in the countryside and give everything the possibility of magicalness.
Nan, Robert, Timothy, and Betsy escape the severe sternness of their grandmother's care, and somehow "borrow" a cart and horse that delivers them directly at their Uncle Ambrose's house, an uncle they've never met, an uncle with a pet owl named Hector w
LH Johnson
I have been in a bit of a slump with reading at the moment, reading books that have left me wanting, and reading books with a tight, tense, uncharitable air. This has not been productive; rather so, it has left me hungry for something. That hunger was sated, briefly, by my glorious Noel Streatfield but it stayed with me after that and it made itself known.

And when I feel like this, when there are things needling at the edge of my mind, or a closed, grey feeling to my senses, I need a very speci
Apr 20, 2015 Hilary rated it really liked it
I read this book aloud to my daughter. Some parts felt like a bit of a slog but other parts were poetic and lovely. We liked the characters and the way that at the finish of the book, all the loose ends were picked up and tied together beautifully. The plot does beg the question, why didn't Ezra burn the dolls sooner ? Very glad to have read it though.
Mary Frances
Jun 17, 2017 Mary Frances rated it it was amazing
How did I miss this book for so long? I love the worlds that Goudge creates in her children's books - thoroughly Christian in a magically mysterious way.
4.5 stars. The sole reason for subtraction of a half-star is mixed feelings about some of the story's magical themes. Otherwise—well, the writing is simply lovely, the setting of a quaint English village delightful, and the characters absolutely charming and endearing. Elizabeth Goudge is just as good as E. Nesbit at writing from children's perspectives in a natural and hilarious way. (When I opened the book and saw it contained a Robert, I thought it would take me a little while to dissociate h ...more
Mary Catelli
A light-hearted children's book, set in the late nineteenth century, with just a touch of magic.

It opens with a whopping coincidence, as the four siblings flee their grandmother and stumble on their Uncle Ambrose. But since they hate it there, and their father has left them there because he's in Egypt, their uncle takes them on, on the condition he can educate them.

Their further adventures involve their surprise at variable English weather (having grown up in India), an old woman nearly a reclus
Jan 16, 2015 Knitme23 rated it really liked it
One of my favorite book bloggers, Cornflower of Cornflower Books, read Linnets and Valerians (rechristened "The Runaways") recently, and I vaguely remembered it from days of yore at the Alvin Bolster Ricker Memorial Library and Community House, so I got a copy through interlibrary loan and had at it. As I read, it came back to me--Goudge's great descriptions, her occasional sharp, witty comments, Uncle Absolom, complete with Hector the owl, Ezra the manservant, and the haunting combination of ma ...more
Nov 01, 2014 Polly rated it it was amazing
My favorite author, and one of her best children's books. Maybe the very best. Yes. Absolutely. Read it.

I would like to describe this book, it deserves it. It takes place, (I think) in the early 1800's. Four motherless British children are left with a martinet of a grandmother while their father goes to India with his regiment. They cannot bear life with Grandma and so one night they run away. Having no place to go, they "borrow" a pony and trap from outside a tavern. The pony knows exactly wher
May 16, 2015 Charles rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2016
What a wonderful book. When I started it I puzzled over why I was reading a children's book, but I was soon enchanted. I have always loved the English village mysteries. They are created to fit snugly into a small circle. They are timeless. They are familiar, all with the same basic components.
This book follows all these tropes. Plus it has three kinds of magic. Maybe more. There is magic magic with spells and curses. Then there is a near fairy tale magic of place, weather and nature rampant.
Maybe this rates 4 stars. I've read this at least four times, twice aloud. I know I would have given it 4 stars the first time I read it. The story is a nice balance of family, fantasy, characters (people with strong and somewhat odd personalities), and nature that all of the kids have found something that makes this book special.

Why then am I giving it 3 stars (actually 3.5)? Probably because there are so many good books for this age group that it's tough to make the judgment call.
Aug 14, 2015 Qt rated it it was ok
The writing is lovely and there are plenty of descriptions and interesting characters but for some reason I never got that into it.
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
I loved this book as a kid, and didn't realise then that this is the same EG who wrote A City of Bells. The Linnet kids are "not apologising children" who stick together and tell each other everything, probably because they've grown up in India where you don't apologise to servants and they didn't have anyone else of their social level to play with. And for once, all the kids have red hair of one shade or another, although apparently Nan's is "too sandy" for her to be beautiful. Betsy reminds on ...more
I have mixed feelings about this book. It was a fun story, though the ending was obvious. It belongs in the same category as Edith Nesbit's books, and Edward Eager's. I really liked the children and Uncle Ambrose, and thought the characters were well-written.

The negatives? The denouement was painted with too broad a brush. We rushed through the conclusion much too quickly- almost like the author just wanted to get it over with already, or had a deadline to meet. Also, I didn't feel like Goudge d
Hailey White
Mar 10, 2015 Hailey White rated it really liked it
While reading I found myself conflicted. At moments I was completely immersed in the story, and other times frustrated. The frustrating parts were the magical parts, which I didn't like initially. Towards the end, the magical aspects had grown on me and my imagination was beginning to flourish. Perhaps my deprivation and under exposure of imaginative storybooks as a child played into this. My only complaint of the end was wanting more justice and repentance from the evil doers. I look forward to ...more
Jun 24, 2008 Megan rated it it was amazing
A charming, albeit old-fashioned, book about four children having adventurs and getting into trouble in the English countryside. Maybe the bees are magical, maybe the wicked cat is a witch's familiar, maybe what's lost can be found--or maybe everything just has more glamor for children than adults.
Mar 11, 2015 Karen rated it liked it
Shelves: mom
This is my kind of book. Very enjoyable read, I don't have to concentrate when I read it. Can grab it to stop my brain from racing with lots of thoughts. Takes me to a different place and time. Fun book so far..6/4/15

Second half of the book wasn't as good as the first for me. Could have been my mood.
Nov 09, 2013 Jane rated it really liked it
Revisiting Elizabeth Goudge lately, and this was my favorite as a kid. Dare I say it? I liked this even better than C.S. Lewis's The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. No uber-Christian message here, just a very well-told tale in the E. Nesbit tradition.
Stephanie A.
Jan 09, 2013 Stephanie A. rated it really liked it
I really only read it on the basis of author love, so I was entirely surprised by how instantly smitten I was with the family. C.S. Lewis levels of charm, but with much subtler aspects of magic and fantasy, which is always a plus. I'll never forget this title, either.
Feb 07, 2014 Leaflet rated it it was amazing
Just my sort of book. I'd give it more stars if I could.
Francesca Forrest
Nov 08, 2011 Francesca Forrest rated it it was amazing
(duplicates what's up on LJ)

I read Linnets and Valerians because I was intrigued and entranced by Sonya Taaffe's description about the gold-hearted, black-hearted, and silver people (quotation here), especially the silver people, descended from fairy folk.

That turned out to be a wrong reason to read the book, or maybe what I should say is, whatever nebulous concept, and therefore hope for the story, that I had, based on that description, it was misguided. Those concepts didn’t really figure in
Jun 17, 2017 Susan rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Susan by: Anne Murphy
This is a wonderful book - I read it in one sitting - stayed up half the night to finish it! It is one I will definitely read again and again. The four Linnet children are staying with their very strict grandmother because their father, an army officer, has gone back to his regiment via Egypt. Grandmother has locked them all in, but they escape and run away. They decided to head for the mountains. As the night progresses, they begin to get a bit worried, but they find a horse and cart in front o ...more
Dec 13, 2016 Felicia rated it it was amazing
I received this book from GoodReads giveaway. I loved this book I could see that this book would be a predecessor to many books. I was so glad to win a copy since when I first looks for this book it had been out of print. I really enjoyed reading it with the realistic magic and adventure. A fun read.
belva hullp
Kindle; Y/A or children's lit; Brit lit; fantasy fiction;
Carolyn Hill
Aug 02, 2015 Carolyn Hill rated it really liked it
Old-fashioned, charming, magical. I have loved Elizabeth Goudge's books for decades after first discovering one of her novels in a used book store with a thatched cottage on the cover and my name inside it. A sign or what? However, I hadn't read any of her children's books and thought I should rectify that. Reading children's books as an adult can be a precarious thing. We can so often see where the author is going. That was indeed the case here, but the quality of Goudge's writing supersedes an ...more
I remembered liking this book as a child--though even then I remembered the last quarter being less compelling than the earlier parts of the book. Re-reading it, I would agree with my childhood self, plus I identified some further problems for contemporary readers.
Goudge's descriptions of nature and insights into the children's minds are lovely (though probably boring--at least the nature descriptions--for kids) but the first part is an engaging tale of family conflict and resolution as they fi
Aug 20, 2011 Castiron rated it really liked it
I found this book quite charming, just barely on the sweet side of the sweet/treacly line. The four Linnet children, Nan, Robert, Timothy, and Betsy, run away from their overbearing grandmother and end up living with their eccentric Uncle Ambrose, who provides them a wonderful home with a few mysteries.

If this book and Goudge's Little White Horse had been written by a South American, they’d be shelved under Magic Realism. The magic is there, but very light; it’s 95% prosaic English life and 5% w
Roger Burk
Oct 03, 2011 Roger Burk rated it it was amazing
Two young brothers and two sisters escape from the stuffy world of upper-class English society, find a friend and guardian in a crusty but learned old confirmed bachelor, and discover a world of magic. But these are Linnets, not Pevenseys, and they don't really leave England. They do, however, undo some voodoo.

UPDATE: I went to this charming favorite again because I needed some respite from all the thick opaque dreary partially-read scholarly tomes on my night table. Just the thing--peaceful Edw
Aug 04, 2008 Melinda rated it really liked it
This is a good book (it is juvenile literature), with one caveat. There is a struggle between good and evil, and this is manifested in some magic. The bad magic is with voodoo dolls (you find out 3/4ths of the way through the book). When we do this as a read-aloud in our family, I will edit that chapter.

I thought seriously about not reading the book aloud, but the rest of the book is very good, so I decided editing around the unsavory part would be appropriate.

Four children are staying with thei
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What's The Name o...: Possible children's adventure, mid-1960's [s] 7 25 Nov 10, 2014 04:33AM  
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Elizabeth Goudge was an English author of romance novels, short stories and children's books.

Elizabeth de Beauchamp Goudge was born on 24 April 1900 in the cathedral city of Wells, she moved with her family to Ely when her father, a clergyman, was transferred there. When her father, Henry Leighton Goudge, was made Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, the family left Ely and went to Christ Churc
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“..and looking up into Abednego's face she fought a battle inside herself with the thing that it was, a sort of grabbing thing, and then she held Gertrude out to him. "You have her," she said.” 3 likes
“It seemed to them dreadfully dangerous to put it into words like that, for lately the things they didn't want to happen were the things that happened and the logic of this was that if you pretended not to want what you really wanted dreadfully you would be more likely to get it.” 2 likes
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