Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Kitchen Madonna by Rumer Godden

This little gem is a great story to read out loud with the whole family. Only 89 pages and not separated into chapters, the book can easily be read in an hour silently, or two hours aloud.

The character who sets the story in motion is Marta, the Ukrainian housekeeper brought into a London home. She tells the children of the house that she is sad that the kitchen has no “good place”. She describes to them how her kitchen in her native home had a special place for a shrine with a beautiful picture of Our Lady and the Holy Child. The Madonna had to be a specially adorned picture in a beautiful frame. She was to be crusted with gold and stones of many colors.

Gregory, a quiet and artistic boy, recruits his sister Janet to help him with his mission to create a “good place” for Marta’s Madonna. First they go shopping, thinking they can purchase an icon, but they are too expensive and they lose what little money they have. Then he finds a picture in the newspaper that he can use as an outline. He goes to a material shop and, after describing his project to the owner, is given lovely materials to work with.

Finally he produces his handmade Madonna, in a beautiful picture frame, and sets it in a special spot in the kitchen, set about with little red votive candles. Marta and his entire family are blessed by his creation, and he vows to produce many more of its kind.

This story is so simple and touching. It shows that there can be meaning in physical things. It delves into the artistic process of creation. It explores the innocent motives of a child wanting to please a loved one in his life. Finally, it describes the blessings of the vision of the Madonna and Child, in the many forms they may take.

Published by Viking Press in 1967. Out of print but available used from online sellers such as
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Loren Christie said...

Sounds like a story I'd enjoy very much.

Anne said...

I've heard that her children's books are very good. Have you read "In this house of Brede" or "Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy"? Both excellent for adults!

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

I haven't read anything else by her but I'd like to!

Barb, sfo said...

Her books are wonderful! Try to get your hands on "The Diddakoi" about a little Gypsy girl. SUCH a sweet book, for older children (10 and up) and adults. Then there are the adults' novels that Anne already mentioned. Dive in!