The Scent of Water

June 9, 2017

Author: Elizabeth Goudge.


Mary Lindsay is a born and bred Londoner who has enjoyed her city life–a prestigious job, and friends with whom she takes in the city pleasures of theatre, art and music. But fleeting memories of a childhood visit to her father’s elderly cousin out in the country are revived with the news that the woman has willed her home, the Laurels, to Mary. She makes an uncharacteristically sudden and life-changing decision to leave London for the country. The gradual unfolding of her understanding of herself, of the now-deceased woman who has bequeathed her home to Mary, and of the people of Appleshaw, all weave together in a most memorable story of love’s redemptive power.   (Amazon summary)

My Thoughts:

Lovely. The Scent of Water is slow-moving and quiet-paced, and it’s meant to be that way. The reading atmosphere is that of a quiet summer day, when you have all the time in the world and are enjoying every minute of it. The POV flips from character to character in a way you don’t see as much anymore, giving the reader a double-view of many minor characters; both how the outside world sees them, and how their internal world actually works. Each character is completely distinct and battles their own trials and troubles.

There’s one character (a past character, really; we’re reading through parts of her diary with a present character) who struggles with crippling depression. We follow her as she learns to rely on God to make it through each attack – and this isn’t a ‘magic fix’, the mental illness doesn’t go away, but it makes it possible for her to live. To keep going. There’s another character who lives with intense social anxiety (or something related. It seemed compounded with something else), and while at a passing glance someone might see her as timid and retiring, she fights harder battles than almost anyone else, and triumphs daily. Each one is fought in obedience to her duty and her God, and her uncomplaining perseverance is honestly amazing.

The Scent of Water is not only a beautiful portrait of country life and in many ways a strangely accurate picture of varying aspects of the human soul, but an inspiration and relief.

Content Review:

Sexual Content: “She understood his ways and his needs, and gave no sign that she was aware of his infidelities.” This is referring to a married man who has cheated on his wife multiple times. The same man: “His jaw set and he reached for the bell that should summon Julie, his secretary and the present object of his affections.” / “Charles, who from long experience was shrewd about women, had found her out very soon and had not attempted to pursue the affair to the usual denouement, for which he was well aware she lacked the courage.” This is a single man going out with a married woman. / Woman is pregnant – says her husband took her by surprise and gave her no time for preventive measures.

Language: 3 d***ned, 1 derogatory term

Violence: ​Minor car accident, the driver receives a concussion and broken ribs.

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