The Bird in the Tree

‘The Bird in the Tree’ was the first Elizabeth Goudge novel I’ve ever read and certainly won’t be my last.

Published in 1940, The Bird in the Tree, is the first in a trio of novels – collectively called the Eliot Chronicles. The second and third books in the trilogy are ‘The Herb of Grace’ and ‘The Heart of the Family’.

For the Eliots of Damerosehay, the family homestead, Damerosehay, as such, is very much the central character in the story.

The Eliots are a large family and their story is as intricate and detailed as most familial tales. The matriarch, Lucilla, is still living- Mother to many children and grandmother to many more.

The children- her beloved son Maurice (father to David) and Roger have died in the Great War. All who remain are an unmarried daughter, Margaret , a son Hilary- a parson, Stephen and George who lives in India.

Damerosehay means a lot to Lucilla. She found it during a particularly troubled time in her life and sold the dwindling family fortunes to create a home – a sanctuary of sorts – that would protect her and her descendants for years to come.

Damerosehay is a large homestead situated along the Hampshire Coast. Surrounded by sprawling gardens, woods and marshes – the sea is not that far away and is a part of the charm of living at Damerosehay.

Grandson David, son of her favourite child Maurice, is the apple of Lucilla’s eye. They see eye to eye on many things- one of them being their shared passion for Damerosehay. Lucilla deems that David is the true future protector of the family fortunes – and she decides to bequeath Damerosehay to him upon her death. The other grandchildren, George’s children are still too young and uninitiated as to the great value of the estate.

However, David has a guilty secret of his own to disclose- a secret that threatens to break the Eliot family apart and the homestead that provides a roof over their heads.

Rather than fight a battle with David, Lucilla trusts that David’s love for Damerosehay will win through in the end and he will forsake his private passions for the greater good of the family.

In trying to persuade David to do this, Lucilla reveals secrets from her own past that are quite personal and that provide an example of her past sacrifices for her family.

Without giving too much of the plot away – the book is a gentle dialogue on the tousle men and women have of choosing between personal gratification or making choices that benefit family and future generations.

Whilst the story was a compelling one, what drew me to the book was Goudge’s unhurried storytelling, her talent for noticing the small things in life and her gift for writing beautifully about nature.

I’m quite eager to carry on with this family saga- and follow the future fortunes of the Eliots of Damerosehay.

Have you read this particular book and do you have a favourite Goudge novel?

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10 thoughts on “The Bird in the Tree

  1. So happy to find someone else to enjoys Elizabeth Goudge. After discovering her a couple of years ago, she has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I greatly enjoyed the Bird in the Tree but some of my favorites are the Dean’s Watch and her autobiography Joy in the Snow.

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    • Oh thank you for those recommendations. I’ve had The Dean’s Watch recommended to me on two occasions – so it must be good.

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  2. I’ve loved Elizabeth Goudge since I was young, and have managed to collect most of her books, and re-read them often! Finding this shared, and spreading, love of her as an author has been one of the great joys of joining Instagram!

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    • She’s been on my wishlist for many years – just because people whose taste in books I trust spoke so highly of her storytelling. Glad I was able to finally start reading her ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. I love this book and its sequel which is also called “Pilgrim’s Inn.” I did not care for the third one much. Besides the two Eliot Chronicles, I love “The White Witch.”

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    • I’m really curious to see how David’s story progresses in the second book. Good to know you enjoyed the second one.

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  4. Almost envying you for discovering such a lovely author now and having all the reading pleasure still ahead of you! Goudge is one of my favourites – so calm, slow and soothing. And taking in so many details… And knowing beauty around us is important and lifegiving (love your instagram, by the way! That’s how I found you! I’m not on instagram, otherwise I would have commented on your beautiful photos.)
    I love the Eliot trilogy. The novel you recommended is wonderful, but my favourite is “Pilgrim’s Inn”. I love books with a house as a main character…
    “City of Bells” is another favourite. I almost could smell the century-old houses!
    Looking forward to future visits on your lovely blog. Best to you from a fellow Persephone-lover!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww. Thanks for the lovely comment. I feel we are kindred spirits. I hope you will visit again soon. Thank you for those recommendations. I look forward to reading all the Goudge’s ๐Ÿ™‚

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