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The River at Green Knowe
by L.M. Boston
Lucy Maria Boston’s third book about Green Knowe uncovers a whole new aspect of the English manor house’s magic. This time, the characters are different. Granny Oldknow has apparently rented out the place to Dr. Maud Biggin– an archaeologist obsessed with finding evidence that giant people existed thousands of years ago– and her friend, Miss Sybilla Bun. And Aunt Maud has, in turn, decided to invite her niece Ida for the summer holidays, along with two children sponsored by the Society for the Promotion of Summer Holidays for Displaced Children: Oskar and Ping.
Instead of learning about the past, the children have adventures in the present… mostly. And instead of hanging around with the ghosts in the house, or communing with nature in the manor grounds, they spend most of their time canoeing up and down the river.
But what adventures they have! They meet swans, owls, hermits, flying horses, and giants. Oskar gets shrunken to the size of a harvest mouse. And on one eerie, moonlit night, the children witness a timeless enactment (or reenactment?) of savage, moon-worshiping rituals. Their imagination is boundless. Their adventures are sometimes dangerous, sometimes eerie, but mostly humorous and wonderful and touched by beauty.
Ping’s imagination invests their surroundings with Asian-style magic, with stalking tigers, displaced demons, and singing fish. Oskar, lonely for his father imprisoned by the Soviets (this story takes place in the 1950s, wouldn’t you know), wonders whether he or his reflection in the water is the real person. And Ida, a small-for-her-age, somewhat bossy girl, agrees to be a guinea pig in an experiment to see if “giant chow” will make her grow.
It all winds up with a delightful trip to the circus where they see an old friend, and reflect that magic can exist in the present only for children, and for adults it can only be in the past.
Filled with the same charm, beauty, and understated magic that made The Children of Green Knowe and Treasure of Green Knowe so beautiful, this new twist should keep fans of the Green Knowe Chronicles on the hook.