When I was in elementary school, the world pretty much revolved around horses. I had a bin of My Little Ponies, I chucked the Barbie dolls and kept their horses, and there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t have done for a Lisa Frank poster of a unicorn/pegasus combo (A unisus? A pegacorn? How have we not come up with a term for this yet, millions of little girls??). I even had an elaborate plan, based on copying the plot of The Secret Horse by Marion Holland, to get a horse of my very own and keep it in a field near my house. I actually went so far as to sneak out of the house and ride down to the Humane Society shelter in the middle of the night, but the inconsiderate swine didn’t have a palomino horse there for me to steal. I know, right? Nobody thinks about MY needs.
For a book titled The Little White Horse, there is surprisingly little in it about horses, and so I was a little worried it wouldn’t have appealed to 7-10 year old me. However, the more I read, the more I lament that I never read this as a child. Maria’s room! The town! The church pew! All of it rendered in glorious, loving detail spoke wholly to my younger self with glee. Elizabeth Goudge knows what’s up with the little girl set. I want to live at Moonacre Manor, with it’s magical mysteries and happy people and WAIT, is that a lion? That’s totally a lion that you’re treating like a dog, Maria!
The themes of the story, and the moral leanings of the characters are very old-fashioned, but in a pleasant way. Maria must right the wrongs of her ancestor, and break the cycle of her wicked neighbors through mystery solving and compromise. The only thing that genuinely irked me about the whole story was the idea that “curiosity is a deplorable trait in a woman.” By all means, lets not improve our understanding of the world by questioning it, ladies. That would be bad manners. Gotta snuff out those bluestocking tendencies early enough that we don’t start questioning the world when we’re older and inconvenience the males around us.
There is a great deal of magic in the story, and a lot of the mechanics and reasoning behind it are left largely unexplained. Not to mention the little white horse only appears three times in the whole book, and then disappears forever. Lamesauce! I demand more ponies!
Despite some of these drawbacks, I was sad when the story ended. I wanted more of the delightful tiny room in the perfect cozy manor surrounded by huge pink geraniums and happily ever afters. This is one for the keeping shelf, and I’ll be reading it to my 7-year old niece the next time I visit her.
Updates on other matters: The price dropped on The Ship That Flew. It’s on its way to me now. *clears throat* MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!
In the meantime, I’m reading The Rose and the Ring, which has a Princess Bride kind of flavor to it, The Hobbit because this amused me (warning, drunken swearing and Hobbit movie ranting), and I’m about to go pick up The Children of Noisy Village from the library.