Day in and day out the dutiful mousewife works alongside her mousehusband in the house of Miss Barbara Wilkinson. It is a nice house and the mousewife is for the most part happy collecting crumbs and preparing a nest for her future mouse-babies—yet she yearns for something more. But what? Her husband, for one, can’t imagine. “I think about cheese,” he advises her. “Why don’t you think about cheese?”
Then an odd and exotic new creature, a turtledove, is brought into the house and placed in a gilded cage. A friendship develops as the dove tells the mousewife about things no house mouse has ever imagined, blue skies, tumbling clouds, tall trees, and far horizons, the memory of which haunt the dove in her captivity. The dove’s tales fill the mousewife with wonder and inspire her to take daring action.
Rumer Godden’s lovely fable about unexpected friendship and bittersweet love was inspired by a story Dorothy Wordsworth wrote for her brother, William, and is accompanied by stunning pen-and-ink drawings by William Pène du Bois.
"Rumer Godden’s The Mousewife, first illustrated in 1951 and reissued by The New York Review Children’s Collection, is a gentle fable of liberation that the prolific British novelist and biographer, who died in 1998, wrote after escaping a loveless first marriage…Disarmingly illustrated by William Pene du Bois, this little book makes a case for empathy and daring: Why creep when you can fly?" —O, The Oprah Magazine