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The Rosemary Tree

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  490 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Michael Stone was once a famous author. That was before he went to prison. Now, just released, he needs to get his bearings and a new beginning. It was a gray day in early April when Michael stumbled wearily into the tiny English village. Weighed down by failure and despair, the town of Silverbridge seems too offer him a quiet, rural escape from the past. Even though his ...more
Hardcover, 1st US edition, 381 pages
Published 1956 by Coward-McCann (first published 1951)
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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Beth Bonini
This book, set not long after the Second World War - but a world away, in the Devonshire village of Belmaray - has all of the Goudge keynotes. There is a beautiful old house, a large ensemble of interconnected characters and an intense sense of the natural world. It is spring, and the world is coming back into flourishing life. There is a garden that needs stewardship and tending - and in this book, even more than some of her others, I feel that Goudge is reaching for a connection between the ...more
Apr 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: light-reading
Too bad the cover of this book makes it look like a romance. It is a wonderful story of the healing of power of grace and kindness. Initially everyone in the story is terribly unhappy, but as several take the lead in returning good for evil, their lives are slowly transformed. This is one of Goudge's most Christian novels (other than The Dean's Watch) yet it offers no sappy answers to life's problems. If anything, it shows the high cost of loving and forgiving.

Beautifully written with many
Feb 2015
Another wonderful story from Elizabeth Goudge filled with spirituality, lovely prose, well-drawn characters, and wisdom. She never fails to pull me in, pull on my heart-strings, and make me think. A keeper to revisit.

Jan 2019
Elizabeth Goudge had an amazing gift of understanding the complexities of human nature and of the spiritual life hidden behind and within everyday events and decisions. On this second reading I'm in awe of her ability to write with such depth, sensitivity and
Julie  Durnell
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england-uk
This was a very slow start for me-wasn't sure I was going to like it at all. But a third of the way in I began to sort everyone out and became very involved with the characters; really liked Harriet best of all. The story of redemption and forgiveness was woven throughout and I ended up totally enjoying the book!
Apr 22, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Today is the anniversary of Elizabeth Goudge's birth.

I inherited a love of her writing from my mother. I remember her recommending a few authors when I progressed from the junior to the adult library, and others over the years since them; but now, as I look back, I think that it is her recommendation of Elizabeth Goudge that says much about the woman she was and is.

The two of them shared a faith; a love of home, family, and the world around them; a belief that lives could be changed for the
Apr 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who needs some uplifting and doesn't want medication for it.
Shelves: books-from-1956
Elizabeth Goudge is an author who can always raise me up from whatever slough of despond I get my self into. After reading the dark novels I love, I go to her to restore my balance and faith in mankind. She never lets me down. She wrote over twenty novels in her lifetime, most of which are now out of print though any library with a good fiction selection carries her books.

The Rosemary Tree is a story about people trying to deal with the greatly changed post WWII world. The central family is
The Rosemary Tree a family drama set in a Devonshire village in the 1950s. The focus is on the Wentworth family. John Wentworth is the vicar of Bellemaray. He is a good man, but he struggles to be a good priest and a good husband to his proud, critical wife and a good father to his three children, one of which is being bullied at school. When one day a stranger stumbles into the village he becomes a catalyst for change which leads to reconciliation and forgiveness.

This story was infused with
Feb 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As I said before in my updates, this book was slow at first, but it grew gently irresistible over time. Goudge writes the kind of book you can meditate on for months. (Beadsman is now one of my favorite words- Look it up in an old dictionary.) I read this aloud to my mum, and it turns out that mothers are a perfect audience for this particular title, so if you have the means, do read it to yours too!
"I just live", Winkle said. "Living is dirty work, but I like it."
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just got my hands on this again, after reading it first from the library and then owning it and somehow loaning it out and never getting it back...

Goudge is one of my all-time favorite authors, and there are several of her books that I have read a half-dozen times or more (notably, "The Dean's Watch" and "Pilgrim's Inn"--aka "Herb of Grace"). This is one that has come to mind often in the past couple of years. Found a British first edition on Amazon, and I've been waiting to treat myself to
Not one of her most memorable, but there were some lovely bits as always. Felt a little draggy most of the time though. It seems that most Goudge stories without magic are a bit of struggle for me to get through, especially these 'modern' ones.
Carolyn Hill
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a re-read after many years for me, and I find it a difficult book to review. Unless one is acquainted with Elizabeth Goudge's writing, this book may seem too old-fashioned, too slow, too spiritual, or even too literary. However, I find it captivating. Goudge compassionately creates such humanly flawed characters that you feel you recognize them. At the center of this novel is the Wentworth family. John is the vicar of the village of Belmaray. Though he has inherited the manor, he allows ...more
Abigail Hartman
May 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other
Me: "Elizabeth Goudge was strange."
Me: "Oh look, here's one of her novels in a bookshop! I'll buy it!"
Me: "...Elizabeth Goudge was strange."

My first (and only) encounter with Goudge before this was her "Green Dolphin Street," which I found compelling yet uncomfortable due to the author's unorthodox spirituality and worldview. The short version is that while I think she has interesting, useful points to make about life, I think her "Christianity" (I'm honestly not sure whether that needs quotes
Sarah TheAromaofBooks
I'm not sure how Goudge manages to make writing about everyday life, with virtually no drama, so entirely engrossing. While The Rosemary Tree was not as thoroughly engaging as The Scent of Water (which remains one of the most magical books I have ever read), I was still completely drawn into the lives of the small group of people at the center of its story.

This is the story of a vicar named John, his wife Daphne, and their three little girls. It is the story of John's old nanny Harriet, and of
Oct 23, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
This one was slow to get my attention, and I almost gave up on it a few times. I'm glad I didn't. I particulary like this passage, as I had a Monday morning much like this one last week:

Mary O'Hara woke up on Monday morning in a shocking temper. Before she got her eyes open she knew she was in it. She also knew she had a slight headache... and then came the realization that it was raining, that it was Monday morning, that her hot water bottle had leaked in the night and that she hated
Mary Coons
May 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I guess Elizabeth Goudge gets filed with "romance," just judging from her book covers (young men and women gazing moonily at each other)--but I think she's much more. I read anything I can find of hers, and I read them for solace, for insight, for the ministry that happens between me and God every time I read this author. Her insights are deep, and penetrating, and transcend the times of her novels.
That being said, she writes about England in the early middle of the twentieth century, and evokes
I read this many years ago. It was a slow read, because there was a great deal of inward ruminating, and yet I couldn't put it out of my mind. The characters are so richly delineated and multi-layered, even when they're unsympathetic, that it really makes you think and consider, which is what all good books should do.
Aug 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another great book by one of my all-time favorite authors. I love the way she weaves so many stories together for good, always offering the hope of love to redeem.

"I've never welcomed anything difficult or painful. I've always resented it and hit back. I can see now that to have welcomed the slings and arrows might have been to welcome love."
Karlyne Landrum
Aug 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite of E. Goudge's, and I never tire of re-reading it. I find it beautiful, wonderfully written, and inspiring. Her insights into children and animals are unlike anyone else's. And so are her insights into the human mind, heart and soul.
Pam P
Oct 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I think just the atmosphere of an England that probably doesn't exist or never has. This and Pilgrims Inn and oh I can't really choose, I loved them all.
Jul 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love the way Elizabeth Goudge recognises the dignity, beauty and value of people despite their recognised failings.
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A charming story of an unworldly vicar, his discontented wife, and his three young daughters. The vicar is clumsy, forgetful, and feels he is a failure. The wife feels overworked and undervalued. The girls are unhappy in their horrible school that their mother insists they attend instead of the village school. The vicar's former nanny, now aged and very disabled with arthritis, lives with them and eventually dispenses enough wisdom to help them straighten out. The vicar's great-aunt lives in the ...more
I love Goudge's children's books, but this is the first of her books for adults that I've read. It's recognisably by the same hand: lyrical prose about birds and gardens, characters called Henrietta and Maria, people finding their place to recover from the trials of the world. It's a simple story, more a series of wonderfully observed character studies as events slowly unfurl around them. Beautiful as it is, I did feel there was rather a lot of it, and when characters say things such as "I have ...more
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started reading Elizabeth Goudge because I read somewhere that she was comparable to George MacDonald. This book was very thought-provoking, and tackled deep issues and emotions. The author obviously planned this book well, with minor characters tying the beginning and end together, as well as the climax. I feel as though I've met these characters and have much in common with them. I'd like to be able to sit in their parlor and share tea. I highly recommend this book, but it needs to be read ...more
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't love this quite as much as my favourite Elizabeth Goudge Damerosehay trilogy, but it still had the essential wonderful characteristics of her books. For me those are her insightful portrayals of children; in this book the glorious Winkle, sensitive Margaret and hard-headed Pat. I also particularly enjoy her descriptions of nature and the seasons and in 'The Rosemary Tree', these weaved around the transitions of the main characters. Our 'hero' Michael arrives with the daffodils, ...more
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To read Elizabeth Goudge books is to fall in love. Now I'm just as impatient as the next person, but Ms. Goudge slows you down and pulls you in. Aaaaaah. It's so nice.
The characters become the pure distillation of human spirit and they ache with longing for that which seems unreachable, but quite suddenly appears in front of them as a sparkling brook.
Pure bliss! Highly recommended!
Katie Baker
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have absolutely no idea what made me pick up this book from the library, I was just drawn to it. Which is entirely fitting for a book which takes as it's themes the futile struggles of humans to be good and the all encompassing spirit of God to make them so. A gentle but incisive book, I took a lot away from it.
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first book by this author. There will be more. It started slowly for me and it took awhile to get used to every character being a narrator at one time or another. Each character is flawed and in need of God’s grace and there is a beauty in the way the author wove those moments of grace into ordinary people in extraordinary ways.
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The right book at the right time. This lovely story of forgiveness and second chances and moving on is full of big ideas. So much to meditate on and so many beautiful descriptions of the natural world. A Very contemplative book. It took a little while to get into, but it is well worth the effort!
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The ultimate 'feel good' book. This book really can lift you out of despondency. A good story with much thought on kindness and caring of our fellow man. It was a disappointing to turn the last page. Highly recommended.
Enjoyable but a bit confusing to follow in places. Some of the characters I loved and others I couldn't warm to.
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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.
“In a world where thrushes sing and willow trees are golden in the spring, boredom should have been included among the seven deadly sins.” 51 likes
“The way God squandered Himself had always hurt her; and annoyed her too. The sky full of wings and only the shepherds awake. That golden voice speaking and only a few fishermen there to hear; and perhaps some of the words He spoke carried away on the wind or lost in the sound of the waves lapping against the side of the boat. A thousand blossoms shimmering over the orchard, each a world of wonder all to itself, and then the whole thing blown away on a southwest gale as though the delicate little worlds were of no value at all. Well, of all the spendthrifts, she would think and then pull herself up. It was not for her to criticize the ways of Almighty God; if He liked to go to all that trouble over the snowflakes, millions and millions of them, their intricate patterns too small to be seen by human eyes, and melting as soon as made, that was His affair and not hers. All she could do about it was to catch in her window, and save from entire waste, as much of the squandered beauty as she could.” 7 likes
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