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O, the Brave Music

4.56  ·  Rating details ·  124 ratings  ·  32 reviews
'Sometimes I think that was the happiest day of my life, those hours of heat and silence and colour, along with David high up on the moor. But then I remember that I have said that of many other days, so I cannot be sure.'

A female narrator looks back on her childhood in a coming-of-age novel set before the First World War. Ruan is an intelligent and imaginative child, who
Paperback, 296 pages
Published October 22nd 2020 by British Library Publishing (first published January 1st 1943)
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Average rating 4.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  124 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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Jan 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021
My cup of tea
Mar 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I dearly, dearly love this book.
Smith writes with a beauty and a feeling that is hard to find nowadays.
This book is a well written, beautiful story. It always manages to capture me between its pages.
I have spent many fond hours in it's company.

Beth Bonini
But I could not be myself, and that seemed to me important, as it still does.

There is something about this book that reminds me of Jane Eyre and not just because there are some similarities in terms of setting and plot elements. (There are some key differences, too, so I won't waste my time with a compare and contrast.) The really important thing is the quality of the protagonist - her intensity as a character, and the intensity of the relationship that the reader develops with her. It's tha
This was recommended by Simon at Stuck in a Book. Simon compared it to I Captured the Castle. I can see where that comes from, but it reminded me more of How Green Was My Valley, I think mainly because of its wonderful depictions of landscape and environment but also because it isn’t shy about depicting the unhappy and sometimes ugly events experienced in childhood. Published in 1943, it is a coming of age novel set in the early 20th century narrated by Ruan, the daughter of a non-conformist min ...more
3 1/2 Stars

I have a really hard time rating and classifying this. I think if it were written today it would be YA, since the main character starts out at age 7 (I think), stays around 10 years old for ages and finally in the last few pages reaches 14.

It's a good book but I'm not used to reading about such young characters. I think if I were of the YA age range I would have liked this a lot more than I did. Its a very sweet, gentle read but I kept wondering, "Where are we going with this?" and th
Cynthia Karl
Nov 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book and I'm not sure I could say exactly why. I first read this book when I was around 12; it had a haunting effect on my little 12 year old soul. As an adult, I thought it would be interesting to re-read it and see if I still liked it, but the book was out of print and I couldn't find a copy in my library. Now, 60 years later I found a used copy on Amazon and bought it. I still love the book although it no longer has a haunting effect. The narrator, 7 years old when the book begins ...more
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a lovely book! I wish I'd first read it years ago, so I could have been re-reading it all this time. Somewhat in the same vein as I Capture the Castle (mentioned by other reviewers, and what attracted me to it) and Jane Gardam's A Long Way to Verona, it's narrated by an unusual, imaginative, bookish girl. Darkness and light, love and sorrow...all so beautifully expressed.

Many thanks to the Stuck in a Book blog for alerting me to Dorothy Evelyn Smith...I'll be searching out more of her novel
Hilary Marson
Jan 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my desert island book. I've read it a million times, have at least 4 copies of it. It was also my Mum's favourite book and my daughter loves it too. My daughter, incidentally , is named after the girl in the story. A must read! ...more
Feb 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
About as perfect as a novel can get. I could not wait to return to this book each evening and was never disappointed. Beautifully told, never pretentious and each character rang true. Bravo!
Feb 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is a warmth and security in this book that had me at hello. Like someone else said, this is my desert island book! My daughter loves it too.
I really enjoyed this book! Couldn't shake the feeling that I was reading a female version of _David Copperfield_, from the tone and the autobiographical feel of this novel, combined with some settings and character descriptions that were just so Dickensian. I would never have heard of it without reading a review of it on The writer of this site, Simon, compared this book to _I Capture The Castle_, and though beyond the sibling dynamic, I really wouldn't think these ...more
Suzanne Mccandless
This book was recommended to me by my mother, who died in 2016. I have had it on my shelf since then and am sorry I waited so long to read it. I was delightful, well written with good descriptions of English countryside in all seasons. A girl struggles to grow up in family circumstances that would be a challenge to anyone. The story reminds me of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and I Capture the Castle. A very enjoyable read.
Joy O’Toole
Mar 21, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 1/2 stars I loved this coming-of-age story. Ruan's life is full of loss but has a golden thread running through it of reliable friends and her love of books and learning. It reminded me of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I plan to revisit Ruan and her world again in the future. The ending was bittersweet and not too tied in a tidy bow, which I liked. ...more
Linda Gaines
An old book from my parents' library. I thought I'd read it but didn't remember any of it. A book for almost one hundred years ago with a lot of dated language but also a definite voice of a young girl and her thoughts and growing. ...more
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A truly delightful book set in England pre WWI following the life of a young girl
Feb 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I need more of her work. Sweet story of a 7 year old girl through the eyes of her grown up self. How different things look when you're 7 than when you're older.
Linda Price
Mar 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a beautiful book. I shall read it again and again
Mar 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved everything about this book and when I say everything I mean the protagonist and narrator Ruan. I adored her. She’s right up there with Scout Finch and Francie Nolan in my book.
This is a coming of age story set in an industrial town near the moors in pre-war England. Ruan’s family consists of a preacher father, a mother who is not suited for life as a preachers wife, a beautiful older sister and a very special baby brother. Seven year old Ruan is wise beyond her years and misunderstood.
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite book. My mother suggested I read this book more than 50 years ago because she said the girl in the story reminded her of me. I think she was trying to give me some advice with that recommendation, which I've thought about over the years. I've read and re-read this story so many times and each time it seems as fresh and wonderful as the first time I read it. I laugh and cry along with the heroine as she grows up in her uncertain world. Every time I read this book I think of my ...more
Maggie Wrench
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book at a jumble sale in the early '60s. I was about 13. I loved it and read it several times. I felt that it dealt with Ruan's inner life and the struggles of the grown ups as she tries to navigate adolescence There are some great character parts too, though I found the handling of Ruan's friendship with Halleluljah Johnson a bit contrived, but the book was written long before such things were widely thought about. In a world where the adults are often caught up in their own probl ...more
I'm not even sure how to describe this book, myself. I would classify it as a slice-of-life period piece set in the growing up years of the main character. I did enjoy it a great deal- for such an obscure book, it was full of life! I was sad that it ended. Warm and cozy, not much point to it, more like a cup of your favorite tea not because you're thirsty, but because the day outside is grey and unpromising. Lovely little book. I may read more by this author- if I can find her again.
The funny th
Nov 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has been in my top 5 since I read it (omg!) 35 years ago. Just bought a used copy for my niece (who gets 2 books from me for every gift occasion). Love this book, as well as others I have read by this author.
Mar 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: optimists
Recommended to Sally by: library book sale
Takes place in pre war England. Descriptive of pastoral England. What an insite to the fox hunt!
Apr 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So glad many readers love this story, I thought I was alone. I read it again every year.
Jun 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book when I was about 13 and loved it so much I stole it from my grandma's library. I still have it. ...more
Crystal Erickson
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely story well written. You won't find that kind of prose in modern books ...more
Dec 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this is pretty much my favorite book. I love how well the feelings are portrayed.. I can just feel right along with Ruan.
Denise Lauther
Oct 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book forty years ago and I loved it. I have my own copy and reread it every so often because the story was wonderful.
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Dorothy Evelyn Smith was born in Derby, England, the daughter of a Methodist parson. She first began to write successfully for English magazines while her husband was serving in the First World War. Thereafter her short stories and articles steadily reached a wide market, though her work was subject to interruptions from her growing daughter and son and their prodigious number of pets. In 1939, wh ...more

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