The Scent of Water
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The Scent of Water

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  685 ratings  ·  138 reviews
Mary Lindsay met her little niece and namesake only once, but she saw in the quiet, imaginative child a kindred spirit to inherit her ancient house. Fifty years later her niece inherited the house with no knowledge of it beyond her indelible childhood memories, and no experience at all of living in the country.

Mary Lindsay is a born and bred Londoner who has enjoyed her ci...more
Hardcover, 285 pages
Published 1963 by Hodder and Stoughton
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Community Reviews

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Holli
Recommended by my friend Deborah.

I liked this book for several reasons. It was set in England and felt like something I might see on PBS starring Judi Dench. But more than that, the book was very contemplative. It was filled with scenes where the characters--especially the main character but others too-- stopped in the midst of everyday life and really paid attention to the moment—the light, smells, colors of their natural surroundings, etc. It reminded me of “haiku mind”—a frame of mind that i...more
Melody
Re-read. I love this book with my whole heart. It's not at all the sort of thing you'd think I'd adore, inasmuch as it's not only steeped in Christianity, it's actually a proselytizing vehicle. Still, it's one of my all-time favorites.

The writing is stellar, the characters are compelling, the setting (a small English village) is my dream home. Even the religion is tolerable as it's not the Christianity with which I'm familiar, rather it's a luminous love that transforms everything into a distill...more
K.M. Carroll
Apparently The Scent of Water is one of Goudges' best known works. Delving into it, I see why. It’s simply wonderful.

On the surface, it’s about a woman who inherits an old little cottage in a village in rural England, and goes to live there. Her coming sends ripples through the whole community and everyones’ lives wind up enriched. It also has the most touching, gentle treatment of mental illness I've ever read.

But it’s about more than that. It’s about the Scent of Water, which comes from a pass...more
Maureen E
The Scent of Water
by Elizabeth Goudge

When I was younger I really didn’t like this book. I liked almost every other Elizabeth Goudge book out there. But not this one. I think that Cousin Mary scared me. Anyway, my grandmother gave me her copy when they moved, about five years ago, I think. Eventually I thought, well I should really read it to make sure I don’t like it before I sell it. I read it and I loved it. Which is all to say, sometimes there is a right time and a wrong time to read books.

I...more
Marcy
I read Child from the Sea by Elizabeth Goudge a long time ago and fell in love with her style of writing and depth of characters. Her books were out of print and I ordered most of them, which are back in print, from Amazon.

The Scent of Water brought me back to the days of the brilliant, thought-provoking writing from the past. (Not that the "present" writing is less brilliant and thought-provoking, but there are styles of classics that I have missed in my recent reading). Elizabeth Goudge writes...more
Jade
It sounded to me like a poem, yet the story lines were interesting and engaging, the characters brilliantly alive. Plenty of lovely motifs and lasting wisdom. My favorite story line presented Cousin Mary's diary: her realizations and detailed observations.

The characters were intimately linked even if they had not known one another well. The sense of connectedness and hope I found in this novel made it memorable and wise. I also enjoyed how The Laurels home was a character in itself, nurtured and...more
Josie
One of my favorite writers, Elizabeth Goudge has a very spiritual nature but can have an acerbic view of human nature and foibles. Lots of people have to face the truth about themselves in this story but it is told lovingly and I have reread this with pleasure.
She also writes quite well for children, The Little White Horse,
and Linnets and Valerians

Andi
Just finished re-reading this book. Elizabeth Goudge is a special kind of writer--a beloved author. There's no one else quite like her. I needed a nurturing story, which is why I chose Goudge. This book is lovely. Her stories are always about God, people, and place, and the powerful interplay of all three.
Johanna
This is a book I have reread several times and quoted from countless times. I love the layers of history and experience and the timeless truths it contains. I do not buy or keep books unless I know I will want to read them again. I got a dated paperback of this on one of my trips to England and treasure it.
Jane
Apr 15, 2014 Jane added it
Shelves: borrowed
I remember my mother guiding me when I made the transition from junior to senior member of the library. I remember four authors she steered me towards: Agatha Christie, Daphne Du Maurier, Mary Stewart and Elizabeth Goudge.

The first two I read then, loved then and still love now. The third I didn’t read until more recently, when her books were reissued, and I found that I loved her too.

That just left Elizabeth Goudge. She didn’t appeal to me at all back in the day, and I must confess that when sh...more
Lori
Mary Lindsey inherits a house in Appleshaw, England from her cousin, Mary Lindsey. She leaves her life and job in the city and takes up residence in this little country village. As she comes to know the house, the land, her neighbors and her cousin through reading her diary she finds peace and renewal.
I love this book. I love the imagery of water and the renewal it brings both literally and spiritually. I love the quiet wisdom of the novel's characters. An old man, who has come to visit Cousin...more
Jennifer
I will buy this book. It was lovely. A woman who has lived her whole life in London learns that her father's cousin has left her a cottage in the country. She retires from her job and moves to the cottage. She gradually gets to know the people of the village where her cottage is and learns to love them (or most of them). I think if I were studying characterization, this book would be very valuable. The book is so beautifully and naturally written that I hardly noticed it was about finding God. G...more
Helen
I read this back in '76 and enjoyed it as I have all of her books. Hers are the books to read when you feel irritable or nasty. This story centres on the relationships of people in a small isolated village in England. The whole settlement has been built within the land of a medieval monastery, now vanished save for the church, a small building in the forest and pathways. This settlement is the perfect home for some people, who recognize it as soon as they come within its influence. Mary, who has...more
Alice
Alas for the necessity of weeding. This is one of my old favorites, by Elizabeth Goudge. I just happened to hold it out to re-read with pleasure.

Each of the inhabitants of the small English village has a brokenness that can only find its healing in another of the characters. The arrival of Mary to the village is the catalyst required to set all the healings in motion.

The novel is carefully designed around a verse from Job: "At least there is hope for a tree: "If it is cut down, it will sprout ag...more
Laurie
Excellent wordsmithing,beautiful descriptions that transport into a special time and place. It is rare to find writing that can so effectively create a locale I think I would recogize if I went for a walk and saw it, and that was very enjoyable. Unfortunately, I didn't realize from descriptions I read that it was so pointedly and heavy-handedly 'spiritual' in a way that I suspect only makes sense or is believable or inspirational if one is already thusly inclined. The religious overtones are far...more
Debbi
Calming and lovely is how I would describe The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge. I loved its allusions to the healing waters of baptism through “the scent of water” and how a once sacred space transforms and effects people. It was subtle and realistic rather than an in-your-face Christian book. And no, no one changes that much. And, isn’t that how it is in real life? Christ takes us as we are and works gently, and without compunction, to change us into His likeness. When I closed the pages of...more
Angela

The Scent of Water, written by English author,Elizabeth Goudge in 1963, is, for me, a real gem.
I first read one of her books - The Little White Horse - when I was a child and fell in love with her style and beautiful prose. In my teens, I read The White Witch and adored it and now, I’ve read “The Scent of Water” for the first time and it’s whetted my appetite for more. A re-read of “The White Witch” is a necessity, I think!

Elizabeth Goudge was a writer for whom attention to detail was importan...more
Ruth
It's hard to express how deeply this book has nurtured me in the past few days as I've made my way through it. Goudge combines moral rigor with an ecstatic, almost Celtic understanding of human beings' relationships with the natural world & everyday objects, as well as with each other & God. I am both comforted & challenged.
Deborah Crowdy
My all time favorite book - with Jane Austen, I have read Elizabeth Goudge more times than I can count. Ms. Goudge explores the deeper meanings of faith, love and duty. Her characters and descriptions will enrich your life.
I've just read it again (March 2012) - loved it as much as the first time I read it.
Camille
It's been awhile since I've been so taken by a book. In the spirit of Jane Austen, this book is about relationships and love and the surprising moments that catch our breath. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to discover a lesser known author who has a keen understanding of human nature and love.
Lisa Matheny
One of the best books I've ever read. I borrowed this book from the library but will purchase my own copy, as well as read her other works. Ms. Goudge has a lyrical quality to her writing. I got lost in the pages and when I finished, I was changed for the better.
Red
This was a book I picked up off a shelf while farm sitting. The first US edition copy I read was published in early 1960's (the paper is so thick!), it takes place in the 1950's in the tiny English hamlet of Appleshaw. What is very funny/prescient is that the protagonist moves to this small, real, hamlet a few hours southwest of London, to experience rural-England before its simplicity and charm is lost. And so, it becomes a time capsule for us today. Many in the village don't have cars, most ri...more
Connie Mace
Goudge’s storytelling is richly descriptive without being flowery:

“The old-fashioned room was filled with the quietness of the deep country and the light of a marvelous sunset. Mrs. Baker, who had loved the dead woman, was touched to awe by the tide of gold.”

The book is filled with refreshing wisdom and insight:

“If anyone had asked her what she meant by integrity she would not have been able to tell them but she had seen it once like a picture in her mind, a root going down into the earth a...more
Christine
This is a sweet, slow moving book. It took me about 60 pages to get into it and I had trouble keeping the characters straight at first, but then it gently took me in. I enjoyed the images of the English countryside circa 1950. It reminded me of some BBC tv shows from the 90s, particularly Ballykissangel--I realize this show is is set in Ireland, but Goudge's book has the same sort of feel as that show. The overt Christian references did not bother me as some other reviewers have complained. In f...more
Val
This author, Elizabeth de Beauchamp Goudge was born in Wells, England on 24 April, 1900. She died on 1 April 1984. Her father was a clergyman and the family were transferred to Ely until her father, Henry Leighton Goudge was made Regius Professor of Divinity at Christ Church College, Oxford.

I had lived with this book, Scent of Water, on my mother's book shelves as long as I could remember. When Mum was moving to a retirement apartment and down-sizing I decided to take the book over and read it....more
Blaire
I was surprised at how much spiritual wisdom there is in this book. I was expecting nostalgia and gentleness, and those things are certainly present, but there's also a lot that is surprisingly contemporary. For instance, Ms. Goudge was very concerned for the specific culture in the English "deep country" being overtaken by corporate growth and for the environment. I found the pace of the story to be a little slow at times, but that's really my only criticism.
Kricket
Sep 05, 2012 Kricket rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Kricket by: Lindsaygail
this book is very soothing. mary lindsay retires to the country after learning that an elderly cousin, whom she only met once, has died and left her home to mary. the small village is full of fascinating and realistic characters, and while i was reading it i just wanted to move in and go to the dog & duck for a pint. goudge does tend to ramble a good bit, and the book on the whole is slow and character driven. sometimes this style just fits the bill for me.
Mimi
Given to me by a dear friend who said, "it's my favorite of her books, I think you'll enjoy." I did very much. A quiet story, and as my lovely friend Deb said, it's not action packed, just covers Mary Lindsay settling into the house she inherited from her elderly cousin, and learning to know those around her in the village. Faith, love, and beauty were woven into the story in surprising and beautiful ways. Just delightful.
Agnes M
I really enjoyed this book. I picked it up at a school library where the selection in English was slim. I chose it just because of the cover - the greenish colour and the script on the spine. The title also intrigued me and as a theme carried throughout the novel it was lovely. Halfway throught I was pretty sure this could be added to my list of favourites and I'm glad the ending did not disappoint me.
Holly
Though this book started slowly, the writing was lovely. I miss reading about "little things", but things that make up life. This book was one of those that made me long for a little English cottage, and 10 close neighbors. I loved reading the authors thoughts on life and people... It was absolutely charming. My only complaint is that it should continue. I didn't get enough.
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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...
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“Most of us tend to belittle all suffering except our own," said Mary. "I think it's fear. We don't want to come too near in case we're sucked in and have to share it.” 19 likes
“What is the scent of water?"
"Renewal. The goodness of God coming down like dew.”
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