#3. Little White Horse

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Old Parson, a twinkle in his eyes, took the books, bowed to Miss Heliotrope, and offered her his arm. "Madam, may I have the honour?" he said to her. And to Maria he said, "Your Royal Highness, the deep-laid schemes of managing women have never until now commended themselves to me. But in yours I willingly entangle myself. For the witchery of the moon is in them, and so brave is the moon, confronting so great a darkness with so small a face, that a man who does not count himself her willing slave is a born fool."

Author: Elizabeth Goudge

Synopsis: Newly-orphaned Maria Merryweather travels into the country to live at Moonacre Manor, which is the Merryweather family castle and home to her cousin Sir Benjamin. Maria and her governess settle comfortably into their new home, but Maria is curious, and there is mystery and intrigue enough in Moonacre Manor and the village of Silverydew to keep any inquisitive young lady busy.

With the help of several magical animals including a mysterious little white horse, and with friends like Robin and Loveday and Old Parson and Marmaduke Scarlet and others, Maria sets out to right the wrongs of her ancestor, win over the Men from the Dark Woods, and reconcile the Sun and Moon Merryweathers once and for all.

* * *

Lou and I, walking to St. Andrew's on our honeymoon in Victoria, B.C. last year, came across a bookstore: Munro's, on Government Street. In lieu of other souvenirs, we decided to each buy a book. I went searching in the children's/young adult section, as usual, and came upon this. The title would have been enough to make me pick it up, but the cover also contained a warm recommendation by J.K. Rowling--"I absolutely adored The Little White Horse"--and of course I pulled it from the shelf and flipped through it. The very first page, with its intricate descriptions and sense of fantasia, sealed the bargain. Lou bought Manssoni's The Betrothed, and I bought The Little White Horse.

I have now read it several times and usually find myself re-reading parts after I get through the whole. Sometimes I've barely put it down when I want to pick it up and read it again.

Having read John Granger's Unlocking Harry Potter, I had a basic acquaintance with the concept of alchemical story scaffolding, and was absolutely thrilled to be able to pick out point after point in Goudge's story. Even without that, though, I would have enjoyed it. The faerie-tinged world, the joyous narrative, the truly good characters, and the ending--which always makes me smile and cry--all combine for one of the best and most satisfying stories I've ever read.


  1. I will ALWAYS remember Maria's bedroom. I loved it when I read the book as a child and I loved it when I re-read the book as an adult. Splendid!

  2. Camille, yes! Maria's bedroom is the perfect space for a girl. I think we all dream of having a little turret room--I know I did.


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