on 17 November 2014
Lucy Boston’s first and original book, The Children of Green Knowe has long been a favourite of mine – a ghost story with a hint of fantasy set in the quietly mysterious Fens. Six years ago I visited the actual Green Knowe house and had a tour of the Norman manor house in Hemingford Grey by Lucy’s daughter, Diana Boston.
The second book in the series, The Chimneys of Green Knowe is a similarly fantastical time-shift story, but this third installment lacks for most of the story any of the ghost or fantasy elements of the story.
The story concerns a new set of children who are visiting the house for the summer, but it is a story that is for the most part less about Green Knowe but the river that surrounds it and concerned with the adventures, discoveries, and the people that the children meet whilst messing about on the river. Mrs Oldknowe, the old lady of the earlier stories, is mentioned only once in passing is not until the last short section that the house takes on its old, mysterious persona.
For all this it is absolutely beautifully and sumptuously written, and a delight to read, and makes me want to go back and explore the real gardens with its strange topiary that really could come to life upon a moonlit evening.
A lovely story for children who like to take it slow and look at the view. It has one of those summer holiday settings where the children are left to their own devices and make discoveries that adults never would.
Each little adventure is a jewel of story-telling and a small artistic pleasure.
Ida, Oscar and Ping are an unusual group of children, just the right kind of mix to explore the extraordinary landscape around Green Knowe.
They plan to make a map of the islands in the watery geography of the area they play in. Each island has a strange secret.
The greatest adventure brings them to a friendly giant who they help to realise his ambition. Tarek at the circus makes an effective climax where the children realise they will always see more than the adults ever could.
It is a bit old-fashioned, but the quaintness will appeal to a certain type of artistic young reader.