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The Scent of Water

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  1,115 Ratings  ·  197 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
Hardcover, 285 pages
Published 1963 by Hodder and Stoughton
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Susan Zinner I'm afraid I haven't read that author. I've read almost all of her books and she reminds me most of Elizabeth Jane Howard (wife of Kingsley Amis and…moreI'm afraid I haven't read that author. I've read almost all of her books and she reminds me most of Elizabeth Jane Howard (wife of Kingsley Amis and most famous for the Cazelet Chronicles).(less)
Sarah R. He's married, but it's more a friendship than a romance. She does have feelings for him, but never expresses more than friendship.

Community Reviews

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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
Nov 14, 2012 Holli rated it really liked it
Shelves: the-inner-life
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
Aug 09, 2016 Hana rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Hana by: Kelsey Bryant
This book was such a joy. It filled my mind with clarity and quiet pleasure, like a spring bubbling up in a still wood.

While resonant with life, the story begins with a death and one that is something of a mercy, as many deaths in old age are. With her last breaths the dying woman "...said something about sailing out on living water," and with her passing the room is full of "the quietness of the deep country and the light of a marvelous sunset...a tide of gold."

There are two Mary Lindsays in t
Jul 30, 2008 Melody rated it it was amazing
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
K.M. Carroll
Aug 07, 2013 K.M. Carroll rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 21, 2015 Poiema rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vintage-novels
A sweet, old-fashioned, and very British novel with all the right elements. The main character, Mary, was a mature woman moving into her retirement years. Alone. She took a huge risk when she quit her lucrative city career and moved to a country cottage, one that she inherited from an elderly relative. Mary quickly became intertwined with the lives of the people in the small village and because of her perceptive nature was able to glean wisdom even from the most broken among them. Having lost th ...more
Nov 23, 2013 Kathryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A dear friend gave me two of Elizabeth Goudges book, this one and The Bird in the Tree. That was earlier this year and I just didn't get around to reading them. What a fool am I. This book was so wonderful. I was enveloped in the cottage in the country and all of the delightful characters. I cannot wait to read more from her.
Mar 25, 2016 Jade rated it really liked it
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
Oct 10, 2010 Andi rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 23, 2009 Marcy rated it it was amazing
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
Maureen E
Nov 15, 2008 Maureen E rated it really liked it
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.

Jul 04, 2010 Debbi rated it really liked it
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
May 14, 2011 Johanna rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 22, 2015 Theresa rated it it was amazing
It’s Christmas time and I needed a Christmas read. With recent family events and illnesses that bordered on serious, I was looking for something I could pick up when I needed a distraction and a relaxation.

Well, I chose “The Scent of Water”. Again.

“I am sitting in front of the parlor fire after tea and the curtains are drawn. There is the smell of burning wood and the scent of the chrysanthemums Ambrose brought me for Christmas. They are gold and cream and deep crimson, and he must have despoile
This novel is the literary equivalent of a warm blanket, a time machine to a pastoral England, an Agatha Christie novel without the mystery. During the first fifty or so pages, I felt a quiet sense of euphoria upon stumbling into the pages of this book and into the village of Appleshaw. It coincided with the first signs of spring here in Denmark and with my first tentative trip in the garden. A lot of the pleasure that we derive from books has to do with the timing of their arrival in our lives ...more

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
Apr 11, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
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
Kelsey Bryant
Apr 16, 2016 Kelsey Bryant rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was ... absolutely delightful. I didn't want it to end; it flowed along gently, like a stream, and it seemed like a faithful companion I could read and gain and drink from every day. I think I've discovered a new favorite author, right up there with Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, L.M. Montgomery, and Louisa May Alcott. Her writing is poetic and she uncovers insights that make you think about spiritual and other truths in a new way. She ties the mundane and the eternal together effortl ...more
Sep 24, 2012 Lori rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 14, 2011 Helen rated it really liked it
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
Feb 11, 2008 Alice rated it liked it
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
Aug 23, 2012 Laurie rated it it was ok
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
Nelleke Plouffe
Dec 24, 2016 Nelleke Plouffe rated it liked it
I enjoyed this story, but did not fall in love with Elizabeth Goudge's writing. This was a disappointment to me, as I was expecting wonderful things based on friends' reviews.
Deborah Crowdy
Mar 23, 2012 Deborah Crowdy rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 07, 2012 Camille rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 28, 2008 Ruth rated it it was amazing
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.
Joy C.
This book is beautiful, a truly gentle, wistful and poetic and healing story filled with moments of joy and sadness, that will leave its sweet fragrance, after you turn the last page, and read the last words.

I am so glad I found Goudge. She's a wonderful author!
Lisa Matheny
Apr 12, 2012 Lisa Matheny rated it it was amazing
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.
Kristine Hansen
Mar 22, 2016 Kristine Hansen rated it it was amazing
It's hard for me to put my thoughts together on this book. There's enough other reviews that maybe I don't need to worry so much about summaries and the like.

This wasn't so much a novel as a meandering. We wandered the British countryside, most of the action in and around one very small village filled with the prerequisite oddball characters, right down to a bit of "His Lordship" and the somewhat fumbling vicar.

I liked it. I liked it despite there was no real plot, not as such. This was a gent
Aug 31, 2011 Red rated it really liked it
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
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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
More about Elizabeth Goudge...

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“What is the scent of water?"
"Renewal. The goodness of God coming down like dew.”
“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.” 31 likes
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