Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pilgrim Inn by Elizabeth Goudge

The Elizabeth Goudge reading challenge is coming along nicely having just finished Pilgrim Inn this morning. There was one paragraph in the book that really spoke to me. That always happens in her books. Her gentle, insightful writing soothes you into a calm complacency, then a phrase or description will suddenly jump out at you and you'll recognize yourself, or your former self, or even the person you wish to become. In the paragraph that follows I saw my former, present, and hopefully, future self.

"Don't you know anything about women? Don't you know the difference between a woman like Nadine and a woman like Sally? Nadine-she can't help it, poor dear-was born a hungry, unsatisfied woman. Her perpetual search after perfection is a lovely thing in her; because of it her home and her person will never be less than exquisite; but it makes all the normal relationships disappoint her by their imperfection, so that she looks beyond them for happiness. At least she did until now. I think that perhaps, just lately, a glimmering of sense has been vouchsafed to her. Sally-and she couldn't help it either-was born the other way round. She does not demand gifts of life; she just loves it for itself, and her humility makes her feel that what she is given is always far too much. She'll feel exactly the same about you as she does about life. You won't disappoint her."

An aside-I believe the English say, "Poor dear" like Southern women say, "Bless her heart." Just an observation.

I relate very much to Nadine's sensibilities. I've always been on a quest for beauty; though not necessarily perfection. I want things to be the best they can be, but I know in this life that perfection will never be achieved. That doesn't stop me from striving for it. I do idealize relationships and life and am disappointed if things don't measure up to what I think they should be. This attitude, I know, puts too much pressure on those you love most, so I've really tried to have few expectations. This seems to work much better for everyone.

But I'd like to retain the striving for beauty with Sally's ability to love life and people for themselves and not expect anything. Then nothing will ever disappoint. That would be nice, wouldn't it? I don't know that I'll ever be so humble that what I'm given will seem like too much. I can only hope and pray that it happens.

The Scent of Water is next on the list. I bought it as I want to eventually own all of her books. I'll be re-reading them for the rest of my life and then passing then down to some fortunate heir. She's that good to me.


Sara said...

She's that good to me too and I understand very well what you mean and how you feel about her writing. I enjoyed reading your impressions on this novel and look forward to more.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Debbie, I am going to search for this author at our library; I looked for her at Paperback Book Swap but she's not listed.

Pom Pom said...

Yes, I love Sally. She's true.

Gumbo Lily said...

I really loved Pilgrim's Inn, and The Scent of Water was one of my favorites of EG.

Fiordelisa said...

It's been a while since I read Pilgrim's Inn. I was just sorting books yesterday, and turned that one over in my hands, thinking.." it time to read this again?"

Perfectionism...I have met so many perfectionists in the extreme that I hardly dare to consider myself to be one anymore. But I still have a mucher larger share of disappointment in people I know and have known than joy in them, which tells me that maybe my expectations are too high. But sometimes I think the high expectations are better to cling to than the type of relationships one would have without them.

But I am looking for the balance between trying to live in truth (no self-deception) while still discovering the meaning of "love covers over a multitude of sins." (What can that latter mean? I dislike when people sweep things under the rug.)

I can think of one paragraph in Scent of Water that I think you will love. The entire book is a delight. You're in for a treat.

wayside wanderer said...

What a great paragraph and very observant of woman-nature. I've only read Green Dolphin Street, but I do have a few other of her books. I need to add them to my list, but I've just started The Habit of Being which is ginormous and take me the rest of my life.

debbie bailey said...

Please blog about that book as I know next to nothing about Flannery O'Connor. Do I have the right book?

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