The Dean's Watch
Wow. Now I remember why I loved Goudge so much. This book touched me deeply. It starts very slowly, and on the surface it's not a promising premise, essentially tracing the growing friendship between two old men -- one the proud, frightening Dean of the Cathedral in this unnamed fen city, the other a humble, cowardly watchmaker who has lost faith in almost everything. But the ripples of this tentative relationship gradually spread to encompass the entire city. It's also about clock-making, creativity, compassion, fear, love and death.
Some readers accuse Goudge of sentimentality, and it's true, she does veer pretty close to the wind at times. Others will probably find her overt Christianity off-putting. But for Goudge, God is literally Love, and that's a form of Christianity I can get on board with -- in fact it might be that reading Goudge was formative in developing my own ideas about faith and spirituality. Elizabeth Goudge writes with such love and tenderness about all the things I love too -- moonlight and bells, dancing winds and candle-light, snow and stars. She makes the everyday world into something magical, and small human interactions into a facet of the divine.
I sank into this book as though stepping into calm waters. Reading it was a meditation, refreshing to the spirit. This will be a book I return to till the end of my life.