The Children of Green Knowe (Penguin Audiobooks)

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9780141803302: The Children of Green Knowe (Penguin Audiobooks)

"What if my great-grandmother is a witch?" thought Tolly. Tolly's great-grandmother wasn't a witch, but both she and her old house, Green Knowe, were full of a very special kind of magic. And Green Knowe turned out not to be the lonely place Tolly had imagined it to be. There were other children living in the house - children who had been happy there centuries before.

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This is not an easy book, and therein lies its charm. L M Boston's classic is a sophisticated mood piece disguised as a children's ghost story. As young Toseland goes to live with his grandmother in the family's ancestral home, the reader is plunged immediately into the world of Green Knowe. Like Toseland, who actually rows up to his new home in the midst of a flood, we have a hard time finding our bearings. Toseland discovers a funny kind of grandmother awaiting him--one who speaks elliptically of the children and animals she keeps around the house: they might be memories, they might be ghosts. It's never quite clear where real life leaves off and magic begins. Toseland admires a deer: "A deer seems more magic than a horse." His grandmother is quick to respond: "Very beautiful fairy-tale magic, but a horse that thinks the same thoughts that you do is like strong magic wine, a love philtre for boys."

With this meshing of the magical and the real, Boston evokes a childlike world of wonder. She compounds the effect by combining gorgeous images and eerily evocative writing. Toseland goes out on a snowy morning: "In front of him, the world was an unbroken dazzling cloud of crystal stars, except for the moat, which looked like a strip of night that had somehow sinned and had no stars in it." The loosely plotted story is given more resonance still through liberal use of biblical imagery and Anglo-Saxon mythology. For those willing to suspend their disbelief and read carefully, the world of Green Knowe offers a wondrous escape. - -Claire Dederer

About the Author:

Lucy Boston was born in 1892 at Southport, Lancashire, one of six children. She went to a Quaker school in Surrey, and was married at seventeen. She later moved to a beautiful manor house near Cambridge which provided the setting for her Green Knowestories. Boston started writing at the age of sixty and won the Carnegie Medal for A Stranger at Green Knowe in 1961.

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