I first met Rumer Godden several years ago when I was selecting some Lenten reading. I chose In This House of Brede. It wasn’t particularly Lenten, but it was thoroughly enjoyable. Then Auntie Leila mentioned China Court: The Hours of a Country House in a Library Project post. Oh, yes! I thought to myself. Rumer Godden! I’d forgotten about her! China Court was just as good as In This House of Brede, and I’ve since read Coromandel Sea Change, too. I have a couple more volumes on the shelf, waiting for one of those days when I just don’t have the courage to tackle the unknown.
What I like about Rumer Godden is that she takes us completely inside the heads of her female characters. We know them as intimately as we know ourselves, and see some small part of ourselves in them. Women’s stories are not so different from each other, except in the details. I also like that her novels, while not exactly predictable, are comfortingly familiar. You know just what you’re in for.
One caution: She wrote several children’s novels, as well, and I have been uneasy with all of them. The children seem always to be written at their quarrelsome, selfish, unpleasant worst, and I prefer that storybook children at least try to be decent. Our children need something to emulate, you know? Something to strive for. They are good at being obnoxious without any encouragement from their literary friends.