Pilgrim’s Inn Is Restful, Renewing

Pilgrim’s Inn is Elizabeth Goudge’s gentle novel of an English family pulling themselves back together after World War II.

Lady Lucilla Eliot gets her daughter-in-law to the country to interview a prospective governess. She lures Nadine’s husband and their five children out the same weekend to see a nearby country inn that’s for sale.

George and the children fall in love with Herb o’ Grace, and Nadine succumbs to their enthusiasm. The Eliots return to their roots in a setting the children recognize as being straight out of The Wind in the Willows.

Before long they are in residence and remodeling. They take in paying guests, including a famous painter and his daughter.

Meanwhile, Lucilla’s grandson, David, a noted actor before the war, has come home to recover from a mental breakdown.

The house is discovered to have been an inn for pilgrims. The renovation of the Herb o’ Grace becomes an opportunity for each member of the extended household to find peace and to restore and build relationships.

Goudge is not a great writer — her perspective shifts are a bit disorienting — but she is a kind one. Her compassion for people keeps The Pilgrim’s Inn readable when better but more cynical novels have been laid aside.

Pilgrim’s Inn
By Elizabeth Goudge
Coward-McCann 1948
346 pages
Bestseller # 9 for 1948
My Grade: C
© 2007 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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