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A City of Bells by Elizabeth Goudge

A City of Bells (1936)

by Elizabeth Goudge

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Torminster Saga (1)

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237573,450 (3.89)39



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English (4)  French (1)  All languages (5)
Showing 4 of 4
Quite high on the sugar level even for a writer who does tend to the sweetness and light; this one almost so much so that I feel EG may qualify as a guilty pleasure. But I still enjoyed Henrietta and Hugh Anthony's antics, and the grown-ups' problems they help to solve. Love her descriptions and her cathedral cities and varied clergymen, from the saintly (think The Warden of Barchester), to the very worldly. And how nice that the publishers, Duckworth, were in Henrietta Street.
And a fitting quote: "We're all greedy for life, you know, and our short span of existence can't give us all that we hunger for, the time is too short and our capacity not large enough. But in books we experience all life vicariously".
  PollyMoore3 | Apr 27, 2017 |
Jocelyn, suffering and weary, arrives in Torminster to live with his grandparents. The book explores his growing relationships with his family and new friends.

A delightful story, albeit a little slow-moving at times. It introduces the young Hugh Anthony, Jocelyn's practical, questioning and scientifically minded cousin. It also introduces, in strong contrast, the dreamy, imaginative Henrietta who has been adopted by the elderly grandparents.

Recommended. ( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
This is a wonderful book. I had to learn that with Elizabeth Goudge, it is very much about the journey and the descriptions. There is a plot and action, but it is slow-paced and we get to enjoy the scenery and rest and relax.

This book is set after the Boer War. It is about a Cathedral town, Torminster, and the people who live there. We meet a young man recovering from his time in the war (mentally and physically) arriving in Torminster to spend time with his grandfather. He is looking for peace and quiet and time to just relax and figure out what he can and wants to do now. And that is just what he gets in Torminster. Of course, it isn't entirely quiet because we have two adorable children living with the grandparents who are always looking for answers and things to do.

There is also a mysterious Pied Piper figure, a lovely little house, eccentric old ladies, and a beautiful actress. The grandfather is a saint and a Canon at the church. He has a soothing and encouraging influence through the story, but we see the struggles of the young as they look at what they believe and what their beliefs mean to the life they live.

A few quotes that captured my attention:
“But mind you do think. Don’t just take out your feelings and look at them, which is what passes for thought with most of us pitiful, self-centered creatures. Look at the question from every one’s point of view…”

“…nothing whatsoever, not even the existence of God to His lovers, can be proved, but that every man, if he is to live at all finely, must deliberately adopt certain assertions as true, and those assertions should, for the sake of the enrichment of the human race, always be creative ones. He may, as life goes on, modify his beliefs, but he must never modify them on the side of destruction. It may be difficult, in the face of the problem of human suffering, to believe in God, he said, but if you destroy God you do not solve your problem but merely leave yourself alone with it….A ghastly loneliness….The same, he said, with belief in your own soul. To deny it is to degrade yourself to the level of an animal and to lose your reverence for the human race; for if man’s existence is to be measured by the span of this life only then he is a paltry, inconsiderable thing.” ( )
4 vote lauranav | Feb 3, 2010 |
This delicious book was published in 1936. It shows its age in the various creaky plot mechanisms that, in today's publishing world, would get this tome bounced out the doors of any major publishing house.

And what a mistake that would be. Goudge writes in a gentle, soothing voice about a time that, even in 1936, seemed distant and innocent. She writes about characters who, despite their predictable entanglements and pat problem resolutions, make the reader feel like he has added some beloved members to his family. These are characters whose motivations are always for something, never against; these are men and women whose basic focus is, "How can I best serve the people I love?"

For that reason, and almost only for that reason, this is a heartily recommended book. Anyone whose mental furniture includes mid-century English fiction (eg, Angela Thirkell's Barsetshire novels) will lap this up. Its Christian themes are not unobtrusive. They are also quite deftly interwoven into the story, such that the book wouldn't be the same or even as good without them. Modern writers of Christian fiction could take a lesson from Miss Goudge! (And I wish they would...does anyone know Francine Rivers's email addy?) ( )
8 vote richardderus | Jul 7, 2009 |
Showing 4 of 4
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Goudge, Elizabethprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cutler, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Girault, YvonneTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedicated to M.L.O.C.
First words
Jocelyn Irvin, sitting in a corner seat in a third-class railway-carriage and watching the green and gold of England in the spring slip past the windows, meditated gloomily upon Life with a capital L.
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Book description
Who was Gabriel Ferranti? Why had he disappeared?

Jocelyn Irvin has just returned from the Boer War with an incurably lamed leg. He heads for the cathedral town or Torminster, where he recovers his love of life in the invigorating company of his cousin, Hugh Anthony, his grandfather, the Canon and Henrietta. 

When Jocelyn moved into the little house where Ferranti once had lived, a dark Byronic spirit haunted its rooms. Was Ferranti alive or dead? Until they knew, Jocelyn and Felicity must reach out to him. Until Ferranti no longer needed them, they must yield slowly to the madness of love. So the ghost of Gabriel Ferranti guided their lives in surprising ways, and more than one bewildered heart was restored to the wonder and magic of living.
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