Series: Torminster Saga #3
Published by Buccaneer Books on originally published in 1942
Genres: Historical Fiction
Source: my personal collection
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Also in this series: A City of Bells
Also by this author: The Little White Horse, A City of Bells, Pilgrim's Inn
I just finished rereading The Blue Hills, a delightful novel by Elizabeth Goudge. Published in the UK as Henrietta’s House, it is a sequel to A City of Bells, the book I recently reread for the Elizabeth Goudge Book Club read-along on Instagram. But where A City of Bells is aimed at adults (although it does include two children in its ensemble cast), The Blue Hills is more of a fairytale that will appeal equally to children and adults.
Hugh Anthony is home from his first term at Eton, and he has chosen to celebrate his birthday by picnicking with the people he loves best: his adopted sister Henrietta; his grandparents; his aunt and uncle, Jocelyn and Felicity; and the Dean and several other elderly residents of the Cathedral Close. So a procession of open carriages and governess carts — and one newfangled motorcar — sets out for Foxglove Comb, high in the Blue Hills above Torminster.
But most of the travelers never arrive. Instead, they become separated and lost in the wood. In the way of all the best fairytales, getting lost is merely the prequel to their adventures — and some of those adventures are exciting indeed. Separate threads of the book follow Henrietta; Hugh Anthony and the Dean; Grandfather; and Jocelyn and Felicity, with occasional sidetracks to check in on the other characters.
Goudge’s insight and the beauty of her descriptive writing are joined here by the sense of wonder and delight displayed in The Little White Horse and several of Goudge’s other children’s books. Yet this remains a book for all ages. Goudge’s observations on the human spirit are no less cogent for being couched in the language of fairytales, where giants keep their hearts in paper bags, birthday wishes come true, and adventure brings each one closer to their better self.
If you haven’t read A City of Bells, I highly recommend reading it first. (I reviewed it here.) You can certainly read The Blue Hills as a standalone, but the experience is richer if you have met and come to love the characters before.
Notes on the cover and availability: Sadly, Henrietta’s House (The Blue Hills) is out of print in both the UK and North America — and everywhere else, as far as I can tell. Over the years, it has been republished a few times in small runs by small presses. My hardcover copy from Buccaneer Books is one of those small runs, and never had a dust jacket or illustrated cover. The cover pictured above is from the 1942 Coward-McCann publication (New York.) Below is the cover of Girls Gone By’s 2013 edition. The British firm Hodder and Stoughton, which originally published much of Goudge’s work, has been reissuing many of her adult books in paperback, including A City of Bells. It is to be hoped that they will reissue Henrietta’s House as well.
Read for the POPSugar Reading Challenge: (25) A book with only words on the cover, no images or graphics. I read my personal copy of Buccaneer Books edition, one of those limited-run editions published without any dust jacket or artwork:
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- POPSUGAR Reading Challenge 2020