Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The World is Too Much With Us

Not stocks, not crushed; just some flowers to cheer us up

The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers... ~William Wordsworth

Lately it seems as though the world is going to Hell in a handbasket or, as we say here in the Bible Belt, to "H - E - double toothpicks in a handbasket." Shaken in recent days by the vision of a world gone mad, I looked around my favorite blogs to see if there wasn't some means of escape. I thought I had found it when I saw a post called "Stocks Crushed" on a blog about the simple life. Surely, I thought, this will be some amusing tale of how the goats got into the flower garden and crushed the sweet-smelling stocks with their little goat hooves. Alas, it was no escape, just more about the Dow skidding this past Monday after the bailout was voted down.

Here's what I do when things start feeling overwhelming, and all around there are reports of greed, depression, and a failing world economy--especially when there isn't a lot that I can do to fix the situation right now, other than leaving my savings in the bank and hoping for the best. I scrounge around the house and find all the loose change (gives me the feeling that I'm adding to our savings), I stop driving (thus saving gas), put on a pot of beans (see, I remember how to live cheaply), and turn to the books of Elizabeth Goudge.

Elizabeth, for so I call her although we never met, was the daughter of an English clergyman who was born in 1900 and died in 1984. If you are an old movie fan you might have heard of her book Green Dolphin Street, which was made into a movie in 1947, starring Van Heflin, Lana Turner, and Donna Reed. More recently, she has been mentioned as the author of J.K. Rowling's favorite childhood book, The Little White Horse.

I have loved her books since I was a teen and came across a shelf of them in a dusty storage room at my county library. Over the years, I collected her fiction books as I found them in secondhand bookstores. Sadly, in my enthusiasm for clearing out possessions before our cross country move, I bundled up most of my beloved Goudge books and left them at the local Swap Shop, hoping that someone else would treasure them. I wish I had them back for the hard times to come.

Elizabeth writes of other times in the English countryside, of families, of faith, and of friendship. There is often a slight air of mysticism, as when she links separate stories that are somehow connected across the centuries. Always, always, there is a feeling of comfort and a sureness that all will be well.

Here is a list that I found on Wikipedia, in an article about Elizabeth Goudge. These are just her adult fiction books; she also wrote non-fiction and children's books:

City of Bells series
A City of Bells (1936)
Towers in the Mist (1938)
The Dean's Watch (1960)
Three Cities of Bells (omnibus) (1965)

Eliots of Damerosehay series
The Bird in the Tree (1940)
The Herb of Grace (1948) aka Pilgrim's Inn
The Heart of the Family (1953)
The Eliots of Damerosehay (omnibus) (1957)

Island Magic (1934)
The Middle Window (1935)
The Castle on the Hill (1941)
Green Dolphin Country (1944) aka Green Dolphin Street (USA title)
Gentian Hill (1949)
The Rosemary Tree (1956)
The White Witch (1958)
The Scent of Water (1963)
The Child From the Sea (1970)


Sylvia K said...

I guess we are all looking for an escape of some kind these days and I, too, am an Elizabeth Goudge fan. As far as trying to cut back, here at our house we've shut off the cable service so I don't watch TV at all, whatever I get is online. We've replaced the old windows in the house and got a new blower for the furnace and I shop very frugally and no personal fun items, keep a pot of soup going. All of which may be helpful, but who knows??? But I guess all of us do what we can or feel we have to.

Nan said...

Great, great list! I'm going to copy it into my book ideas folder.

As for the world, I don't listen or watch news. There's nothing I can do. I voted for my man, and now I'll let him take care of things. :<)