Literature / The Little White Horse

The Little White Horse is a classic of children's literature, written in the 1940s by Elizabeth Goudge. First published in 1946. The events of the novel begin in 1842.

After her father dies in debt, Maria Merryweather and her governess Miss Heliotrope go to live at Moonacre Manor with Maria's uncle Benjamin.

While there, Maria learns all about her family's history, and discovers that she is the last in a long line of Moon Princesses, and that it is her destiny to reunite her family with the evil De Noirs.

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Has been adapted into both a live TV series, Moonacre, and a movie, The Secret of Moonacre. The latter was directed by Gabor Csupo of Bridge to Terabithia fame, and while it is an enjoyable movie in its own right, it plays up the more overt fantasy elements of the book with Maria now having to force the two families together, before the 5000th moon since the curse was laid upon the family destroys Moonacre Valley. It also eliminates any reference to Old Parson (or the surrounding village) and re-tools the character of Robin into being the Big Bad's son. Oh, and it has Tim Curry as the Big Bad, Coeur de Noir.

It is also noteworthy for having been a favorite book of J. K. Rowling as a child.

The book and its adaptations show examples of:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In the book, Sir Benjamin Merriweather is described as fat, bowlegged, and past his prime. In its film adaptation, he's played by the lean, sinewy Ioan Gruffudd, who's also considerably younger than the character.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Basically, Gabor Csupo took the book's characters, and went off and did his own thing.
    • To be fair, however, the original book really doesn't lend itself that well to a cinematic adaptation.
  • Badass Preacher: Old Parson. Admittedly, he's only badass in the context of the book, but it's enough.
  • Ephebophile: Played with in the film. The romantic relationship present in the original book (which is not an example of this trope since the characters were around the same age) is downplayed to some hinting, but it's enough to come off as a little squick when one considers that the actor playing Maria was 14 during filming and the actor playing Robin was 21.
  • Costume Porn / Scenery Porn: One cannot deny that the costume and art design are simply stunning.
  • Gigantic Moon: The film adaptation features a continuously-full moon that gets larger and larger as the movie goes on. It's an actual plot point, as the moon will destroy the earth unless Maria gives back the moon jewels.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: The De Noirs wear black, and are seen as villains. Admittedly, this does have a plot related reason in the book, but is just this trope in the movie.
  • Happy Ending: The ending of the movie.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Maria is this, transforming her uncle (in the movie), and even reconciling him with his true love
  • Heel–Face Turn: Robin in the movie. Actually fairly easily, but it can be put down to him knowing the legend, and not wanting to to come true. Though a frankly awesome parody suggests another reason...
  • Identical Grandson: The actors playing Benjamin, Loveday and Coeur de Noir all show up as their ancestors.
  • Parasol of Pain: Miss Heliotrope has one. Subverted slightly in that it's only shown to be a minor distraction (albeit one that helps greatly, as the movie's already over by this point and all that's needed is for the villain to see sense.)
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "There is only one thing that can save us now. Classical. French. Needlepoint!"
  • Scenery Porn: The book spends a lot of time evoking the charming and beautiful settings, but the one thing that fans are sure to recall with the most rapture is Maria Merryweather's bedroom. Pretty, mysterious, comforting and grand all at once, the author somehow imagined and described the bedroom that apparently all little girls long for.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Marmaduke Scarlet speaks like this. He's a guy who works in a kitchen.
  • Shipper on Deck: Maria for Benjamin and Loveday. Loveday for Maria and Robin.
  • Weird Moon: The movie has a continuously-full moon that gets larger and larger as the movie goes on. It's an actual plot point, as the moon will destroy the earth unless Maria gives back the moon jewels.

Alternative Title(s): The Secret Of Moonacre