by L.M. Boston
Finished September 9, 2009
What a creepy book! It wasn't scary and it wasn't really eerie, but it was just an unusual, sweetly creepy book.
I've known of this book for years but never thought to read it until I came across the description for A Stranger at Green Knowe" which is about a Chinese boy who befriends a gorilla at the zoo. I decided to read the first book in the series before reading A Stranger. I'm not really sure this is a series of continuous stories. It seems to be a series of stories which happen to be set in the English manor called Green Knowe.
The Children of Green Knowe is about a boy named Toseland (Tolly) who goes to spend the Christmas holiday with his great grandmother at Green Noah (aka Green Knowe). His mother is dead and his father lives in Burma with his stepmother who insists on calling him Toto.
Tolly usually has to spend the holiday by himself at boarding school. All of the other children get to go home. Tolly must stay with the Master and Mistress of the school who pretty much ignore him.
Green Noah is a welcomed change of pace for the boy and his great grandmother is warm and gracious and loving. Tolly feels immediately at home. This is where it gets creepy.
Tolly begins hearing sounds of children laughing. The rocking horse in his bedroom seems to move on it's own. Little unexplainable things happen. But none of this seems to bother Tolly at all. He takes it all in with an insipid childlike wonder. The book never tells Tolly's age, but he seems to be around 8 or nine, with an emotional age of four. I don't mean that L.M. Boston wrote about an emotionally stunted boy. He had a cloying, immature personality .
The children that Tolly hears turn out to be the spirits of Toby, Alexander and Linnet, three children from four hundred years past. Tolly longs to meet them and to see Toby's horse Feste.
Magical things happen throughout the book as little by little, the children trust Tolly enough to reveal themselves.
There's a slightly scary incident with a hedge man called "Green Noah" and a statue of St. Christopher.
The book reads like a foggy dream. It was difficult to read for me. It's not that the text was complex or difficult. It's just that I felt in such a fog reading it. Someone else could take this book and make an excellent novel out of it. As it is, The Children of Green Knowe is a good idea for a book.
L.M. Boston wrote the Green Knowe books for herself, not any audience. She was inspired to write this one after renovating an old manor house. In that case, this book is exactly what she wanted. I wanted more, however.
You Tube has a clip from the 1986 BBC series based on the book. I was able to see the first 9 minutes of the show. It looks to be very good and Toseland (Tolly) in the series isn't the insipid, pasty little boy I imagined him to be. I would love to see that series.
I will read the other Green Knowe books in hopes that they are better than this one.