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The Little White Horse

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  12,672 ratings  ·  1,205 reviews
In 1842, thirteen-year-old orphan Maria Merryweather arrives at Moonacre Manor, her family's ancestral home in an charmed village in England's West Country, and she feels as if she’s entered Paradise. Her new guardian, her uncle Sir Benjamin, is kind and funny; the Manor itself feels like home right away; and every person and animal she meets is like an old friend. But the ...more
Paperback, 238 pages
Published December 31st 2001 by Viking Books for Young Readers (first published 1946)
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Abby Rose Let me guess, you're still sore that "To kill a mockingbird" didn't have a word about killing mocking birds in it? LOL.

Just messing with you.

Well the…more
Let me guess, you're still sore that "To kill a mockingbird" didn't have a word about killing mocking birds in it? LOL.

Just messing with you.

Well there is a horse (a unicorn) IN the book, but it's ABOUT a girl named Maria moving into a her cousin's magical mansion. It has a great significance to the story, though, so it's a fitting title. (less)
Cassandra In the book there's a tawny lion which they tell people is a dog so they aren't scared. Definitely not a black lion (the colour theme is very delibera…moreIn the book there's a tawny lion which they tell people is a dog so they aren't scared. Definitely not a black lion (the colour theme is very deliberate) but they did change a lot for the movie so it wouldn't surprise me. There's a big black cat though.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.09  · 
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 ·  12,672 ratings  ·  1,205 reviews


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Mir
Aug 24, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: younger, gender
There are some beautiful aspects of this story, especially the descriptions -- nature, food, clothing -- there's a richness to them that is very appealing. And the characters were interesting, although I can't say I *loved* any of them.

But the didactic elements! Man, I see why Goudge set the story in 1842 instead of a century later, when it was actually written. Over and over, the emphasis on Maria having to learn to accept and embody feminine virtues (and they are explicitly denoted as feminine
...more
Skye
Jul 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: special-ones
This is a book that revels, without shame, in the star-dusted dreams of young girls. It is pure wish fulfilment in the most delightful and honest of ways and does not pretend to be anything else. Miss Goudge's beautiful prose is descriptive in infinite detail. Each time you enter a room or meet a character or enjoy a meal it is explained in full; down to the colour of the napkins or the pattern of the curtains. She creates a world that is both welcoming and comforting, with an edge of danger and ...more
Kemaria
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It seems a lot of those reviewers for whom this story didn't resonate are those who only learned about it as adults after hearing that J. K. Rowling liked it. I think this is one of those books where if you don't read it as a child, you will never fully appreciate it as an adult.

For me, I first read this book when I was probably seven or eight, and adored it at first read. It has remained one of my favorite childhood books. There's sheer magic in the descriptions - like Maria's room at the mano
...more
Annie
Jun 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
One of my fav books from childhood & one I re-read annually. Not bad for a book which one the Carnegie Medal in 1946. Ever since I have wanted a round tower bedroom.
Hilary
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hilary by: Found at Saint James book sale
Some people may have seen the film loosely based on this book, I read this aloud to my daughter, who realised she had seen the film but as it turned out the book is quite different to the film.

Set in the Moonacre valley, a young girl who has recently been orphaned comes to live with her uncle who is Sir Merryweather owner of a wonderful house. When Maria is shown up to her room she discovers it has a tiny door with a tiny silver horse shoe knocker, only big enough for herself to go through. As w
...more
Jane
Apr 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
‘The Little White Horse’ is one of a number of stories that Elizabeth Goudge wrote for children. It is set sometime in the 19th century, in the Devonshire countryside that the author so loved; and it is an engaging and old-fashioned tale, underpinned by both magic and faith.

Maria Merryweather was born and raised in London, but when was thirteen she was orphaned and sent to live with her last living relative – Sir Benjamin of Moonacre Manor – in the heart of the country. She travelled with her go
...more
Dee
Oct 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes fantasy or fairytales...
If I could describe this book in one word, it would definatly be "gorgeous". The language, the atmosphere... I almost forgot about reality reading it! You may be thinking "who wants to read a book about a little white horse?" Honestly, its not like that at all. The book is much, much more than tea parties and riding sidesaddle, although we first meet the characters in a lovely horse-draw carrige...

Maria Merryweather, who recently became an orphan, is sent to live with her cousin Sir Benjamen wi
...more
Luisa Knight
Perhaps 6 stars?? It was so wonderful; I didn't ever want to reach the end.

Elizabeth Goudge is a masterful writer and story-teller! She is superb with creating entirely charming characters that you not only can picture perfectly in your mind's eye, but characters that you feel like you truly know and want to know more deeply. Like the lovely and sweet Loveday, Marmaduke Scarlet and his mammoth vocabulary, the understanding and huggable Sir Benjamin, the mysterious and plucky Robin, and an admira
...more
Meika
Jan 01, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: i-quit
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sally906
The little white horse by Elizabeth Goudge is a book that I have read once every year or two since I was 10. It is old-fashioned, romantic with lashings of fantasy. It is a fun adventure, set in a pure and innocent world where good overcomes evil, enemies reconcile and hope is restored.

Set in 19th century England, it is a magical story of the newly orphaned Maria who has to leave her London home to stay with her guardian Sir Benjamin Merryweather, at Moonacre Manor. Before they arrive Maria and
...more
Katie Ziegler (Life Between Words)
Sweet, enchanting, quirky, and a little bit magical. This was a wonderful children’s classic that swept me away with its enchanted setting (and lovely writing) and had me giggling in equal parts. My only regret is that I didn’t read it as a child. I would have LOVED the descriptions of moonacre manor. So beautiful!!
Beth Bonini
The first time I read this children's classic, I was bowled over by the magical world that Goudge created. It was the sheer gorgeousness of the details of it which really registered with me. This time, I think I've reflected more on the theme of reconciliation/reunion which takes places on so many different levels and in all of the relationships in the book. That process is not just about forgiveness, either; it also requires making some very concrete reparations.

It also really struck me that t
...more
Kelsey Bryant
One of the sweetest, most picturesque books I've ever read. It's a sentimental and happily-ever-after fairytale, but there is just enough realism for me. The life lessons of trust, getting along, and making peace were priceless. The setting was intriguing and hard to categorize--a pocket of idyllic landscape in the real world of Victorian England, with idealized circumstances and fanciful creatures. The animals were actual species of animals who couldn't talk, but they acted as intelligent as hu ...more
Andrealitchfield
Mar 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: 8 and up
Recommended to Andrealitchfield by: Mom
Do you like adventure? Family pets that are not really, um ,family pets? Feasting? Ponies? Feisty heroines? Little boys who drop in for a play date that no one can see but you? Long family feuds that threaten to wreck everything unless someone very brave acts quickly with a clear head and great courage? This book's got'em! The story of young Maria Merryweather and her friend, Robin, is a classic. The scene at tea, where Robin and Maria agree to marry, had me rolling on the floor! It can be a bit ...more
Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore

Maria Merryweather, a thirteen-year-old is heading from London into the country, to Moonacre Manor where she is to live with her cousin, Sir Benjamin Merryweather, as she has lost her father, while her mother had died when she was younger. With her are her strict but loving governess Miss Heliotrope, and King Charles spaniel, Wiggins. Maria is sceptical of going to the country which she feels will be dull after life in London, and the way there has not been very promising. But as soon as they be

...more
Manybooks
Well, with regard to textual descriptiveness, Elizabeth Goudge’s 1946 The Little White Horse definitely reads like an on the surface most delightful plate of richly flavoured food, appealing to all of my senses and also making me very much and very strongly understand why The Little White Horse is such an enduring classic and fondly remembered by many (including it seems Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who considers The Little White Horse as a personal favourite). And yes, if I had in fact enc ...more
Jessica
Oct 07, 2009 rated it liked it
A sweet tale, and enjoyable enough to read, but so much of the story unnecessarily focuses on how important it is for women not to be curious. Don't ask questions, don't go exploring, wait for the men to explain things to you and tell you where to go. Additional important moral lesson: Don't ever quarrel with someone you love, because they will totally leave you forever.

The story is about a young girl who finds herself an orphan and moves from high-society London to her only surviving relative'
...more
Lily Rose Dorothea
Oct 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful little story about good triumphing over evil, light triumphing over darkness. Yes, it's a fairytale, and a children's book, but I did not feel like I was reading a children's book. Literature has deteriorated over the years, and I find it very annoying when people say a book hasn't aged well because it doesn't fit today's society. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the world hasn't aged well. I wish this book had lasted longer. 238 pages seemed to fly by, and I'm l ...more
Dhanaraj Rajan
A Simple Story. A story for young kids. But it is equally good for adults.

Elizabeth Goudge blends skillfully fairy tales, folk songs, real life events and suspenseful episodes. Thee are wild and domestic animals that live with human beings, there are unicorns playing important roles in the novel, there are dwarf like people, there is the allegorical clash between the Sun & Moon (Light) vs Darkness & Night, there are moral lessons teaching one (1) to give to God what He deserves; (2) to control o
...more
Rachel
2 stars.


DNF @ 25%

I just couldnt get into this. I enjoy historical stories and this one is set in the 1800s but there wasn't much of a story. It was too dull for me. I will watch the movie though. I'm giving it two stars because it seemed like it could be good, but you really need to be in the mood for something very slow. Maybe I'll pick it up one day.


Update: 2nd December 2020
I watched the movie and really enjoyed it. For me personally, this time, the movie was better than the book. Plus, I real
...more
Kellyn Roth
This book is the best. Everyone should read it. It's just so sweet and magical. :) ...more
Monica Edinger
I reread this book a few years ago (after J.K. Rowling spoke of it as her one childhood favorite) and loved it. I'm eager to see what they do with the movie. I haven't heard of any kids today reading it and am afraid, frankly, to give it to any. Feels a bit of its time somehow. But I love it. ...more
E. Writes
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A completely adorable book from start to finish! I'm sorry I didn't run into this one sooner in my reading life, it's a sweet, perfectly balanced adventure for the young and imaginative, and is overloaded with all the best things one thinks of when one thinks of England.
I wonder if Devon is even half as enchanting in real life as it is portrayed in this book!!! If so, I want to go...

I liked the cleverness of the wording, the author shows a facility with language that is a true delight, with p
...more
Nicky
Seventh book of the twenty-four hour readathon. Gosh, I'm sleepy.

The Little White Horse is a little fairytale, really. I remember a friend in first year recommendng it to me over and over again, so I had quite high hopes, but I don't think it's really that special. Everything is very predictable, and often slightly silly -- mistaking a lion for a dog, really? It's kind of sweet, at times, but it edges into too sweet. I'd have liked more of a sense of risk, and for things to come a bit less easil
...more
Rosemary Atwell
Aug 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fabulously whimsical, beautifully written fairy with the breath of magic on every page. If ever a book was written for a Libran, this is it!
Beth Bonini
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had never heard of this classic English book until a friend said it was the favourite book of her childhood . . . and, indeed, a "comfort read" well into adulthood. Now I see it everywhere -- and I marvel that I could have been unaware of it for so long.

By the third paragraph, I knew that I would love it.
"Humanity can be roughly divided into three sorts of people -- those who find comfort in literature, those who find comfort in personal adornment, and those who find comfort in food; and Miss
...more
Akemi G
Oct 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-fiction, kid-lit
OMG I am so glad to finally find this book! This was my favorite of favorites in childhood, and I've been looking for this, not remembering the title. It's about a girl moving to this old castle or something . . . where there is a harpsichord . . . and a unicorn in the nearby woods . . . and men who seem scary and bad but not really. Make sense? What was it called? Google couldn't help . . . Hey, GR just "suggested" it to me!

Got to reread this sometime soon.
...more
Charlie
Sep 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone with taste.
Shelves: favorites
my older sister (nerd) gave me this book for christmas one year. i was not open enough to know how amazing it was, but when i did find out how amazing it is, i now read EVERY book she gives me. she is a genius, this book is phenomenal! so beautiful i only mourn i cannot crawl into the world created here.
Julia
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I wish I could give this book to my twelve year old self. I thoroughly enjoyed it now, but I would have been absolutely enchanted then. It is a classic fairy tale, with magic and mystery. Delightful.
Amy
This review describes The Litte White Horse as a "bit like gargling with honey" and I don't think I could find a better descriptor if I tried.
I could see myself reading this novel to my niece or another young girl if, say, I ran out of Frances Hodgson Burnett or Louisa May Alcott or Laura Ingles Wilder or L.M. Montgomery. I found the fairytale elements enjoyable. But the level of saccharine certainly became off-putting after a while.
As other reviewers point out, the story lacks much of a compe
...more
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Elizabeth Goudge was an English author of novels, short stories and children's books.

Elizabeth de Beauchamp Goudge was born on 24 April 1900 in Wells, Somerset, in Tower House close by the cathedral in an area known as The Liberty, Her father, the Reverend Henry Leighton Goudge, taught in the cathedral school. Her mother was Miss Ida Collenette from the Channel Isles. Elizabeth was an only child.
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“Robin: When you do marry, who will you marry?
Maria: I have not quite decided yet, but I think I shall marry a boy I knew in London.
Robin(yells): What? Marry some mincing nincompoop of a Londoner with silk stockings and a pomade in his hair and face like a Cheshire cheese? You dare do such a thing! You - Maria - if you marry a London man I'll wring his neck! (...) I'll not only wring his neck, I'll wring everybody's necks, and I'll go right away out of the valley, over the hills to the town where my father came from, and I won't ever come back here again. So there!
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Maria: Why don't you want me to marry that London boy?
Robin(shouting): Because you are going to marry me. Do you hear, Maria? You are going to marry me.”
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