filmed as The secret of Moonacre
It's astonishing how many films have been inspired by books recently. And when this happens, there is always a dilemma of what to do first: read the book or see the film?
I prefer the first option. So when I heard that The secret of Moonacre, a film released this February, starring Juliet Stevenson, Ioan Gruffudd and Dakota Blue Richards (from The golden compass), was based on the classic story by Elizabeth Goudge, I quickly found a copy of the book.
The little white horse tells the story of thirteen-year-old orphan Maria Merryweather who, in 1842, is sent to live with her uncle Sir Benjamin in a grand, but dilapidated, house in Devonshire. Once here, in Moonacre Manor, Maria finds herself involved in an ancient feud.
Quickly making friends and intrigued by the mystery and enchantment surrounding her new home, Maria is determined to restore peace and harmony to the valley. She calls on her quirky companions, resourceful animals, her own self-sacrifice and perseverance, and the glimpse of a magical little white horse to help her to achieve it.
Elizabeth Goudge was born in Ely to a clergyman, and she has woven elements of the Christian message into this story as well as casting a friendly parson. The book won the Carnegie Medal in 1946, so it's been around some time and, while the language is flowery and old- fashioned in parts, the characters, setting and plot are all charming.
If you need any further convincing, J K Rowling has written: "The little white horse was my favourite childhood book. I absolutely adored it. It had a cracking plot. It was scary and romantic in parts and had a feisty heroine."
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge (Lion-Hudson, 6.99) is available from Young Browsers (Tel 388890) and St Marys Shop
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