Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Rumer Godden published children’s picture books and novels as well as adult nonfiction. She retold folktales in The Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle (1970). She drew on her interest in dogs, especially the Pekingese, in the children’s book Fu-Dog (1989), and her interest in ballet, in the children’s book Listen to the Nightingale (1992). Godden’s children’s fiction presents a serious exploration of human nature and motivations. Her first children’s book, and the first of her doll stories, The Doll’s House (1947), recounts how Charlotte and Emily Dane’s doll-play rivalry results in the accidental incineration of the doll mother. The Diddakoi (1972) deliberately eschews a romantic portrayal of Roma (Gypsy) life to focus on the clash of cultures that forms the center of most of Godden’s adult fiction. Writer Kingsley Amis, a Whitbread Prize judge, described The Diddakoi as “the sort of book children had to fight for to get it from adults.”

The majority of Godden’s nonfiction was written about India. The early autobiographical volume, Two Under the Indian Sun (1966), is a spare account of her childhood and was written with her sister Winsome Ruth, known as Jon Godden. Godden’s personal memoirs, A Time to Dance, No Time to Weep (1987), recounting her life until 1945, and A House with Four Rooms (1989), covering her life from 1945 to 1977, include reproduced correspondence and family photographs.