The Rosemary Tree

July 12, 2023

The Rosemary Tree by Elizabeth Goudge

This book is a numinous book, a sort of Green Knowe for grown ups.

Snippets, and these aren’t even the best parts:

Here a young teacher (just 20) at her first job is pondering that funny thing called human nature and making some less than flattering discoveries about herself as a member of it:

Was it true, as Giles had said, that human nature was fundamentally cruel? Fundamentally compassionate, too, surely. She had snapped the children’s heads off this morning and yet she would give her life for any of them. One was very ready to give one’s life for those one loved, even though one was not very nice to them always.

About a woman who has,because of her crippling arthritis, become nearly totally dependent on others. She has asked them to send her away to a care center, but they won’t.

“They all said the could not do without her. In the paradoxical nature of things if she could have believed them seh would have been a much happier woman, but not the woman whom they could not do without.”

Later while worrying about this, she realizes (it’s a temporary realization),

“There should be no thought of burdens in the mysterious interweaving of one life with another. It must be that the weakness in oneself which one thought pressed most heavily upon others to their harm was in reality a blessing to them, while on the occasions when one thought oneself doing great good, one was as likely as not doing great harm; if self congratulation were present, sure to be doing harm..

About another character’s conviction that he should not have gone into the Anglican priesthood because he’s simply inadequate

“he kept to himself, for it was too late now and useless remorse should not be inflicted on others but like the worst kind of wound it bled inwardly…