The Herb of Grace by Elizabeth Goudge

This book is also know as the Pilgrim’s Inn in the USA, maybe the English name is too complicated for them……haha!

So now we find out if Nadine has kept her vow to return to George, and has it worked out.  Set in the exhaustion of the years after the Second World war, the after effect of five years of  fear, loss, deprivation and lack of sleep set the tone for the book.  We meet Sally, who has met Nadine’s family and in a gentle way, we are so set up for understanding Sally that EG needs just to touch on her in the rest of the book, as Sally finds her love and a new life.  Unscarred by the war, she is a balm for all she meets, especially the now extended Eliot family. On her reconciliation with George, Nadine has borne twins, who are the most naughty, imaginative, fey children I’ve ever met in a book.  Nadine is exhausted, but mostly because she’s not let go of David and this is tearing her apart.

Enough plot relating!  Suffice to say, Lucilla is now openly interfering and meddling in her family’s life, which leads them to finding the Herb of Grace, an old inn on the Beaulieu river.  I’ve just come to realise why my dislike of this woman has risen.  This female patriarch rules the family through love.  I was brought up by my mother and Grandmother who openly loathed each other.  Gran had the money and in the early 1960s when my Mum left my dad, there was no state support and so Gran called all the tunes. Lucilla is what my Gran could have been, and that’s what smarts.

EG has used some author’s license in describing the way to the Herb Of Grace, I know the area well, but never mind.  I wish when we lived there, I’d had the courage to drive through the gate and explore the road through the wood.  Now its all expensive millionaires houses, all in secret.  If you Google Earth the river, there are a couple of places, which allowing for time and a stretch of the imagination fit the bill.There is a pub called the pilgrims Inn in Hythe nearby but when we visited, we could see no likeness or a link to EG.

The description of the house and its welcoming air is one of the highlights of the book for me as we go round it with the new eyes of the family. Anyone who has read my blog will know I have a fixation with houses  and people making new lives, so for me, it is indeed the ‘House of the Perfect Eaves.

As in all EG books, all is resolved, but not without some self revelations and moving on for all the characters.  In some ways, I think it’s a shame that she wrote a sequel, I would have liked to have left them there in their happiness.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sara
    Aug 25, 2013 @ 23:22:57

    Greetings from Southern California! While perusing the ‘net for my favorite author, Elizabeth Goudge, I came upon your blog and have enjoyed your EG reviews. This American actually prefers the English title of this book, but the version of it I own is called (alas? no, it’s okay too ;-)) Pilgrim’s Inn. It has been a revelation re-reading her novels over much of my lifetime, beginning in my late teens and I’m now 60-something. Like you, I seem to unearth new understandings with every reading. It’s quite a lovely adventure of discovery.


    • annarashbrook
      Aug 26, 2013 @ 09:39:20

      Thanks, it’s always so nice to get comments. I must go back and read some over again to review this autumn. The Pilgrim’s Inn isn’t such a bad title, there is such an Inn near where the book was set, so maybe she used this idea. I take it you know about the Elizabeth Goudge society? There is also the book by Sylvia Gower which concentrates on the places Elizabeth used. I used to live in the area which I think made the books come alive to me. Best wishes!


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