In our continued foray into books-not-related-to-our-history-studies, I chose The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge as my next bedtime read aloud with Miss M. I wasn’t really familiar with this title until I read Amy’s post about it a few month ago. After reading her description of the book I knew I wanted to add it to our list! I even went ahead and just bought a copy of it, since I suspected it would be a title Miss M would like to have on her bookshelf for future reading. 🙂
At it’s core, The Little White Horse is a fairy tale, complete with an orphaned girl (Maria) living with a distant relative, sweet love stories, mysterious circumstances, evil triumphing over good, and just a bit of magic.
Miss M and I weren’t drawn in so much by the beginning of the book — a description of Maria’s journey to her new home at Moonacre Manor — but with each passing chapter things got just a bit more intriguing. Maria has the opportunity to set things right in a generations-old feud between her family and another family, and she boldly does what needs to be done. A variety of “coincidences” begin to come together as the story unfolds…and since this is a fairy tale, these happy coincidences result in more than one happily ever after.
The Little White Horse was written in 1946, but the descriptive language could easily have come out of a 19th century novel. It’s really dense with detailed descriptions of food, clothing, interior decor and scenery.
Here’s an example: “The pretty room was panelled in oak, and the western window, with its deep window seat, looked out on to the rose-garden. Perhaps because of this, the person who had furnished the parlour had made it a rose room. The cream-colored brocade curtains at the window, torn but beautiful, had little flame-coloured rose buds scattered over them, and the winged armchair beside the fireplace was upholstered in the same brocade. The Persian rug upon the floor was patterned all over with full-blown golden roses upon a sea green ground. The six Sheraton chairs that stood stiffly round the walls had seats worked in petit-point, white roses with golden hearts, upon a background that echoed the sea-green of the carpet. There were no pink roses anywhere.” (p. 39)
Many of the detailed descriptions do serve a point in the story though (the lack of pink, in this case, is the important part — a clue to the person who decorated the room), and you certainly could not walk away from reading this story without a vivid idea of how the author wants you to envision the setting for the story.
Given the detailed nature of the reading, I think it made a good choice to read-aloud. I tried a couple times to convince Miss M to read it on her own (while we were working on other read-alouds), but I am glad she said “no” and we had the opportunity to enjoy this one together. I think she would have been apt to skim over the thick descriptive paragraphs, and miss details important to how the plot works itself out. Now that she’s familiar with the arc of the story, I won’t be too surprised if I see her picking it up to read on her own.
I’m linking up with Read Aloud Thursday @ Hope is the Word!