Green Dolphin Street is as plausible as a green dolphin

Green Dolphin Street is an unforgettable novel for the worst of reasons: The plot hinges on mistake so implausible it beggars the imagination.

Two girls brought up in the Channel Islands fall for the same boy. William goes off to sea and ends up working in a lumber camp in New Zealand.

Deciding it’s time to marry, he writes to his prospective father-in-law to ask for vivacious Marguerite’s hand. Unfortunately, he gets her name wrong and asks for her bossy older sister, Marianne, instead.

When Marianne gets off the clipper in New Zealand, William decides to make the best of a bad deal.

Marianne’s business sense fails to make up to William for her nasty temper.

Marianne isn’t happy with William either.

Marguerite, meanwhile, takes care of both parents until they die, then enters a convent.

Eventually William and Marianne return to their childhood home, everyone makes nice together, and all live happily guilt-free ever after.

Elizabeth Goudge does a good job of describing the personalities of her characters and setting the scene, but she doesn’t make the story flow from that. The story is one implausible scene after another.

As to all three main characters having a glorious religious experience, that’s as incredible as a green dolphin.

Green Dolphin Street
By Elizabeth Goudge
Coward-McCann
502 pages
1944 bestseller #8
My Grade: C-

© 2014 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda Aragoni

I read. I write. I think. I make big ideas simple. I help teachers teach expository writing to teens and adults. In my free time, I read and review old novels.

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