Carol Bakker's Reviews > Island Magic

Island Magic by Elizabeth Goudge
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2013, culture, guernsey, goudge, island

The setting is St. Pierre, the capital of Guernsey, a channel island between England and France. Island Magic quenches two of my current fascinations: island culture and late 19th century rural life. André and Rachell du Frocq, with their five children, are barely eeking out a living on a farm called Bon Repos (“Good Rest” or, as I like to translate it, “Sweet Tranquility”), a place that comes with a benediction written on stone outside the farmhouse:

Harbour and good rest to those who enter here,
courage to those who go forth.
Let those who go and those who stay forget not God.

The story is sad and yet not without hope. The children have individual minor tragedies, they also have the confidence and security of being part of a bustling family. The tension resides between husband and wife as they begin to think about conceding failure at farming. The stranger’s assistance is helping the bottom line, but brings more marital conflict.

Typical of Goudge, there is a fairy element in the story. Themes of faith, bitterness, the value of beauty, hard work, service, gratitude, grief and sacrifice make the story shimmer. One point of the plot beggars belief. Of course I can’t identify it without giving away part of the story.

Rarely—and happily— I come across a sentence, with which I can fully relate, and about something I’ve never before seen in literature. Island Magic delivered! This is used to be me!!

How thankful she was for her one great gift—the gift of making her nose bleed at will.

Goudge’s mother was a native of Guernsey; summer visits to the grandparents were part of Goudge’s childhood. Her final thoughts on island living in this book are a bit idealistic, but they reflect some of the necessities of interpersonal relationships in a closed society.

You can’t be an individualist on our Island. There’s so much magic packed into so small a space. With the sea flung round us and holding us so tightly we are all thrown into each other’s arms—souls and seasons and birds and flowers and running water. People understand unity who live on an island. And peace. Unity is such peace.
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Quotes Carol Bakker Liked

Elizabeth Goudge
“Rachell believed passionately in the value of beauty. If she was pressed for time she considered the filling of her bowl with flowers more important for her family's welfare than the making of a cake for tea. On this point her family entirely disagreed with her.”
Elizabeth Goudge, Island Magic
tags: beauty

Elizabeth Goudge
“Lovely phrases had lit candles in her mind, one after the other, till she felt intoxicated with the brightness.”
Elizabeth Goudge, Island Magic

Elizabeth Goudge
“The function of the educator is to discover in each individual child the gifts implanted in her by Almighty God and to develop and dedicate them to His service.”
Elizabeth Goudge, Island Magic

Reading Progress

Started Reading
November 27, 2013 – Finished Reading
December 2, 2013 – Shelved
December 2, 2013 – Shelved as: 2013
December 2, 2013 – Shelved as: culture
December 2, 2013 – Shelved as: guernsey
December 2, 2013 – Shelved as: goudge
December 2, 2013 – Shelved as: island

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