A place of grace

The Herb of Grace (also published under the much less captivating name Pilgrim's Inn, which sounds like a sequel to The Canterbury Tales) is the second novel in Elizabeth Goudge's Damerosehay trilogy. The first The bird in the tree was previously reviewed here. In Herb of Grace, there have been big changes to the Eliot family since the previous volume. The Second World War has brought death to the family, and actor David is suffering from PTSD following his war service in the RAF. George's marriage continues to be problematic, and Grandmother Lucilla is suffering after losing her maid, Ellen, probably her closest friend.

In an attempt to bring her family closer together, Lucilla encourages George to buy the former Maison Dieu, the Herb of Grace, now running as a rather dilapidated hotel, desperately in need of love to return it to its former glory. It's the pilgrim inn however that will work its magic on the family as they struggle to return to the happiness of pre-war years.

As always with Elizabeth Goudge, this is a charming heart-warming story. Its religious values are rather more overt than in Bird in the tree, but if you're not particularly religious don't let that put you off. More than anything it's a love for humanity with all its foibles and imperfections that make this such an enchanting read.

The dogs remain central and endearing characters, while the older children are well-formed and loveable (although the youngest do tend to be a little too much of the school of Christopher Robin for this particular reviewer. Where he's concerned, I am, I'm sorry to say, of the same mind as Dorothy Parker).

However for cup of cocoa books that make you feel better whatever life may be throwing at you, they don't get much better than Herb of Grace.


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