Pilgrim’s Inn: Book Review

When I picked up the book, Pilgrim’s Inn: The Herb of Grace, at a resale shop I didn’t realize that it is the second book in a series about the Eliot family. Elizabeth Goudge wrote a trilogy; the first book is The Bird in the Tree and the third book is The Heart of the Family. Pilgrims’s Inn was published in 1948 and is a good read by itself.

Pilgrim's Inn

Rue is the herb referred to in the title. The leaves on this herb have narrow green lobes, and in the summer it blossoms with small yellow flowers. According to the Complete Herb Book, “Rue was known as Herb of Grace, perhaps because it was regarded as a protector against the devil, witchcraft and magic. It was also used as an antidote against every kind of poison from toadstools to snakebites.”*

The story reveals that the Inn was once managed by a group of monks, offering hospitality to travelers. The Inn contains a secret, a wonderful room with hidden art.

The Eliot family in postwar England is burdened and weary. Through the manipulation of Lucilla , matriarch of the Eliots, her son’s family settles in the Inn.

I read a couple chapters each evening and began to appreciate the careful drawing of each character as they worked through trouble and frustration. The author has a keen perception of children and writes a forgiving description of their mischief.

Elizabeth Goudge has painted a picture of Pilgrim’s Inn, ascribing to it an attitude of hospitality and healing. She has written about the forest behind the Inn and its animals with fine description. A love of nature permeates her words.

Like the Inn, this book was a peaceful welcome for me. It took me to a place that I enjoyed. The closing chapter contains a message about children and the family.

There were still children in the world, and while there were children, men and women would not abandon the struggle to make safe homes to put them in, and while they so struggled there was hope.**

The book has a soothing quality, clearly conveying the value of family life.

cover-image

*Jekka McVicar, The Complete Herb Book, Kyle Cathie Limited: London, 1999 p. 166

** Elizabeth Goudge, Pilgrim’s Inn: Herb of Grace, Coward-McCann, Inc.: New York, 1948 p. 331

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