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Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge

Green Dolphin Street (original 1944; edition 1944)

by Elizabeth Goudge

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5211319,425 (3.9)23
Title:Green Dolphin Street
Authors:Elizabeth Goudge
Info:Coward-McCann, Inc. (1944), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 502 pages
Collections:Your library

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Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge (1944)



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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
real good look @ how people interact w eachother ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
This is one of those old books that could never be published now due to its fanciful language and overly-described settings. I enjoyed it. ( )
  emilyesears | Aug 29, 2016 |
This looked a bit daunting: nearly 600 pages of rather small print is not a quick read, but I began it about a week ago, and have finally completed it.

The story begins in one of the Channel Islands in the mid-1800s. Marianne and Marguerite are sisters, but very different. Into their lives come Dr Ozanne, and his son William.

The three young people take to each other quickly, and both girls fall in love with him. He joins the Royal Navy, and ends up in New Zealand…

The bulk of the book is about his life in the newly colonised island, where the native people are sometimes hostile. William reaches the stage where he can consider supporting a wife. He writes to his old friends, in the hope that his preferred sister will come and join him. Unfortunately, he makes a mistake… one that seems unlikely, even given the elapsed time and William’s inebriation at the time, but this part of the book is based on a real incident in the author’s ancestry.

Essentially, this is a story of redemption. Can a woman change a rough, unmotivated - albeit gentle and kind - man to become more ambitious? Can a man learn to love a success-driven woman who shows little affection to anyone? The author moves between the different main characters of the book, unfolding their stories gradually, showing their thoughts as well as their actions, their connections as well as their separation.

Written in 1944, this is an epic saga, and on the whole I found it very readable, albeit long-winded in places. I don’t find descriptions interesting, and often skimmed a few pages. Still, Elizabeth Goudge had a wonderful way with words, an amazing knack of storytelling.

From a historical point of view, it was interesting to read about some of the uprisings and battles in New Zealand in the 19th century. Despite being difficult to put down, it was quite draining in places. My biggest problem was that I never really liked Marianne. She becomes the most important character for much of the book, intent on improving and redeeming everyone else, yet most in need of redemption and healing herself. Getting under my skin is is the mark of an expertly written character, but it made the story less enjoyable.

Warning: modern readers may be shocked at the casual use of a word which is now considered highly offensive (although that may have been changed in more recent editions. Mine is a 1975 impression.)

From the perspective of story and writing, I'd give this a clear four stars, maybe more; but from my own personal tastes, a solid three. Three-and-a-half would probably be fairest.
( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
I remember the cover picture and strange title 'Green Dolphin Street' from my early childhood. There was always a copy somewhere in the various houses where we lived. It was a book my mother returned to for distraction in times of bleak despair. Seventy years after that first memory I read it for the first time, with huge enjoyment, under its alternative title "Green Dolphin Country". It is escapist literature and it glories in the genre. The narrative bounds along with constant recourse to the help of coincidences that delight rather than outrage. Goudge writes with gorgeously lush ornamentation. Landscapes and characters throb with emotion. It is a long book - close to 600 pages in my battered paperback edition (5th impression, 1968); I would not wish it shorter. The central character, Marianne, provides the hard spine of narrative interest throughout. She is the driving intelligence of the novel and her husband William and sister Marguerite, suffer, as Marianne herself does, from her dominance and escalating ambitions. She does come home at last, to achieve a resolution of the conflicting desires that have driven her life.

An epigraph from the Christian mystic, Evelyn Underhill, foreshadows the trinitarian structure of the novel, embodied in Marianne, her loveable dolt of a husband and Marguerite, who who is reborn through sacrifice. Here is the epigraph, a little abbreviated (forgive Underhill's insistent masculine pronoun): 'Three deep cravings of the self, three great expressions of man's restlessness, which only mystic truth can fully satisfy. The first is the craving which makes him a pilgrim and a wanderer. It is the longing to go out...in search of a "better country".... The next is the craving of heart for heart, which makes him a lover. The third is the craving for inward purity and perfection, which makes him an ascetic....'

I called Green Dolphin Street 'escapist' a moment ago. There is another enjoyable and illuminating variety of escapism in the book. Green Dolphin Street was published in 1944. Elizabeth Goudge is a voice from a vanished past. She was the daughter of an Oxford Professor of Theology who spent his wages on good works and made insufficient provision for his wife and daughter when he died, leaving them in relative poverty. Goudge never married. She looked after her ailing mother and wrote for money to support them both. After her mother died, Goudge lived with a companion and continued her rigorous and productive work as a writer to the end of her long life. Reading Green Dolphin Street in the second decade of the 21st century is a form of armchair time-travel as one returns to the the attitudes, beliefs and prejudices of an intelligent, educated Christian woman in the first half of the 20th century. One doesn't have to share those attitudes, beliefs, prejudices or her Christianity to enjoy the company of Elizabeth Goudge for a couple of leisurely days while one reads Green Dolphin Street. ( )
  LeaderElliott | Apr 6, 2015 |
Although it was a bit old fashioned in tone and prose sometimes bordering on the purple, I enjoyed this novel of the discovery of the true nature of love and of adventure in pioneer New Zealand, from isle of Guernsey and final return. The book spans more than a generation of lives of the same three main characters in the 19th century.

After misadventure as a British naval officer, William Ozanne joins the crew of a merchant ship, the Green Dolphin, and settles in New Zealand where he makes a success at the lumber trade. Feeling he can provide for a wife, he sends home for a bride and who should arrive but his love's sister due to his mistake in the wrong name. The novel shows the growth of each character--the strong though bossy Marianne, the wrong bride; Marguerite, her sister who finds peace in her life; and the feckless William, who sets the whole story in motion.

The author did a marvelous job of characterization of everyone, from the three main figures to the "cameos". She admits in her note she may have made mistakes in her version of New Zealand, but the Maori uprisings, fire, and earthquake were very well done. Descriptions of the landscapes were a bit effusive but this era brought the period to life for me.

"Although this book is fiction ... it is based on fact. That a man who emigrated to the New World should after the lapse of years write home for a bride and get the wrong one because he had confused her name with that of her sister, may seem to the reader highly improbable; yet it happened. And in real life too the man held his tongue about his mistake and made a good job of his marriage." The author writes this in her note. ( )
  janerawoof | Mar 15, 2015 |
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4th November '64. To Leonie wishing you a very happy 20th birtday love Rosaleen
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Strangers and pilgrims on the earth...seek a country.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
A haunting love story set in the Channel Islands and New Zealand in the 19th century.

William, whose hypnotic, masculine presence made two women adore him... of Marianne, moody, passionate, brilliant, by whom William was both fascinated and repelled... of Marguerite, Marianne's beautiful sister whom William wanted with all his heart.

They had both loved him for years. Now they were waiting for him to return from his journeys and claim his bride.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0899661130, Hardcover)

Elizabeth Goudge (1900-1984) was a prolific British author of novels, children's fantasies, and inspirational works. She is widely loved for her elegant prose, profound insight into human personalities, and vivid descriptions of beauty. Green Dolphin Street (1944) is Elizabeth Goudge's most famous novel for adults, winner of a Literary Guild award and adapted into a movie starring Lana Turner. A romance like no other, it is a saga of human and divine love spanning decades and the globe--from the Channel Islands to New Zealand. The Times of London praised the book as "a story of ultimate love, determination, devotion and forgiveness, powerfully and yet beautifully written." This new edition is part of the Elizabeth Goudge Classics series.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:57 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The lives of sisters Marianne and Marguerite take very unexpected courses when William, the man they both adore, writes after a ten year absence and asks for Marianne's hand in marriage, even though it is Marguerite he has always loved.

(summary from another edition)

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