Each and every one of Elizabeth Goudge’s books is crammed full for me of all-time favorite passages, and I never read one without a notebook or a piece of paper close at hand to jot down the page numbers of the most shining and stirring among them. Here’s an oft-revisited jewel from The City of Bells that still brings tears to my eyes:
Henrietta, at heart a contemplative person, enjoyed alarums and excursions for a short while only. For her a background of quiet was essential to happiness. It had been fun to stay with Felicity, to be petted and spoiled by all her friends…to have lovely things to eat and to go to the zoo whenever she liked, but it had completely upset her equilibrium and she felt as though she had been turned upside down so that everything that was worthwhile in her mind fell out. She, like everyone else, had to find out by experience in what mode of life she could best adjust herself to the twin facts of her own personality and the moment of time in which destiny had planted it, and she was lucky perhaps that she found out so early…
…she found herself listening only to the lovely silence and it seemed to her that in it she came right way up again and her dreams, that had deserted her in London, came flocking back, so that with joy she flung open the doors of her mind and welcomed them in. Never again, she vowed, would she live a noisy life that killed her dreams. They were her reason for living, the only thing that she had to give to the world, and she must live in the way that suited them best.
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
If, indeed, we ‘read to find we’re not alone’, then I salute you, friend-Henrietta!