Linnets and Valerians
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Linnets and Valerians

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  998 ratings  ·  71 reviews
When the four orphaned Linnet children are sent to live with their nasty grandmother, they decide at once that their new life is unbearable-and run away. Making their way through the English countryside, they first charm the gruff but lovable Uncle Ambrose and his gardener, Ezra, then stumble upon the eccentric Lady Alicia, who seems to have lost her family. And then the r...more
Paperback, 247 pages
Published January 1st 1978 by Avon Books (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
Jackie "the Librarian"
Sep 14, 2008 Jackie "the Librarian" rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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...more
Nan, Robert, Timothy, and Betsy decide they would rather not live with their grandmother, who was “of a type that was to be met with in 1912, but is now extinct. She believed that children should be instantly obedient and she did not like dogs.” (This is unfortunate because they are both disobedient children, and they own a dog. Alas!) But their father is in Egypt, on route to India with his regiment, and they have no other adults to turn to.

So they rescue themselves. They escape out through the...more
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
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...more
Just my sort of book. I'd give it more stars if I could.
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.
When the Linnets, Robert, Nan, Betsy, and Timothy, run away from their strict grandmother, they stumble into a mystery of magic, lost love, and whimsical dreams.

I love reading these English children's books written from the late forties to the early sixties. The characters are full of life and oddity, the story takes its time being told instead of bursting from one event to the next without a chance to catch its breath, and there's some expectation that even young people will understand some asp...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...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...more
Francesca Forrest
(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...more
Some children's books are just as or even more magical to read when you are an adult. They take on a dimension that you miss as a child. I reread some of my favorites like Wind in the Willows and The Secret Garden but author Elizabeth Goudge was totally new to me. One of the things that pulled me to buying this book had been the sweet cover showing Robert, Nan, Timothy, Betsy and Absolom the dog running away over the garden fence.

They are taken by their father to live with their grandmother whil...more
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...more
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...more
Michelle Styles
One of my absolute fave books as a preteen. I re-read it last night and it stands the test of time. Wonderful magical realism. I love the bees. It is one of those boks that stands with Princess and the Goblins (george MacDonald) and the Little White Horse (also by Goudge) of books that will make you fall in love with the British Isles. In this case it is Goudge's description and her gentle storytelling. Really comforting and super inspiring. Made me go out and talk to my own bee hive.
A highly engaging story of four Linnet children, finding a place for themselves while their father is away in Egypt. The story is not greatly adventurous, and the magic is quiet - a melding of "old ways" and gentle Christianity - but the true strength of the book is the moments of joy the children experience when finding some thing which particularly suits them - Nan's parlour being a stand-out occurrence.

I did have some problems with the epilogue - (view spoiler)...more
This is a great story, I love kids stories like Wolves of Willoughby Chase, books by Edith Nesbit (The Enchanted Castle) and Tom's Midnight Garden. I especially love old fashioned books like this one. The children are charming, their adventures full of wonderful characters like the grouchy uncle and the cheery gardener. Their search for a missing family is touching and sweet, and in the best of traditions, ends well with a hint of sadness.

I love the beautiful passages in this book - "It was a sm...more
I found this book at a library sale and am somewhat surprised not to have run across it before now. Somewhat dated and stereotypical, but a good read. I shall look for Goudge's other books.
I got this book from a friend for my 11th birthday. I read it that summer and every summer after until high school; it became an escape into a magical world where a group of siblings could have an adventure that introduced them to strange people and events, made them appreciate each other better, and gave them the confidence to live with eyes, ears, and hearts wide open.

Throughout my young adulthood and into parenthood, I would recall snippets of imagery and glimpses of characters that gave me...more
Very wonderful. Can't believe I never read this as a child. All the ingredients for a classic, magical children's adventure set in the English countryside. Charming beyond belief, tender and with a delicious dry sense of humour throughout. Also an astonishingly advanced level of vocabulary and ideas for young readers. Brilliant.
Marie Cheshmehdoost
This was one of my favourite books when I was a child. Recently I reread it and enjoyed it just as much as an adult. A lovely story.
Predictable in places, but great escapism
One of my favorite childhood books
Deirdre Rasmussen
One of my most beloved childhood books.
Runaway children in Devonshire, shapeshifting cat, magical bees in the vicarage, monkey servant in livery, voodoo, stern uncle with a pet owl, Egyptologist with amnesia, reclusive Lady - what's not to like? I loved the combination of convention-challenging with love and goodness' winning in the end. A perfect book.
A slightly odd mix of Christian ethics and children's fantasy, but nevertheless a fun, quick read, and I can see why it's considered a classic by many. The four children are each allowed to be their own person, and while the epilogue is a little pat it's not unsatisfying. Perfect for eight or nine year olds who enjoy the likes of the 'Famous Five' and 'The Secret Garden' - this story has both adventure and magic, and a plot which is interesting without being overly complex.
(Known as 'The Runaways' in the USA)

Four children run away from their strict grandfather and find their uncle. He undertakes their education which is not entirely what they expected. They become involved in superstitious practises and meet a sad old lady, eventually releasing her from her troubles and finding happiness themselves.

Beautifully written as with all this author's books, and slightly mystical in places. Not a typical children's book.
Imagine your father has left you, your brother, sisters, and your dog in the care of your strict and very proper grandmother so you plan an escape over the wall and up the mountain.

So sad this is out of print. So glad to own a copy. I read this aloud to my family and we all loved it. As a home-schooling mom I had a special soft-spot for the education model these children enjoyed in the midst of all their adventures.
I'm only about halfway through, but what a lovely book! As a kid, I searched for more magical books akin to those by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Frances Hodgson Burnett,'s what I was looking for! Another author I didn't find was George MacDonald...


The book would have been stronger with a single main protagonist, but it's still a wonderful story & one I'll encourage my children to read!
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Elizabeth de Beauchamp Goudge was an English author of novels, short stories and children's books.

Born in 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 Church, Oxford.

Goudge's first book, The Fairies' Baby and Other Stories (...more
More about Elizabeth Goudge...
The Little White Horse Green Dolphin Street The Scent of Water Pilgrim's Inn (Eliots of Damerosehay, #2) The Dean's Watch

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