Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Children of Green Knowe - The Gardens and The Book

I can't quite remember what let me to this discovery. Okay. Actually, that's a lie.

When I was a little girl, I was obsessed, OBSESSED with The Children of Green Knowe. It is the first book in a series - but I seem to remember just reading this one particular book over and over. And, over. Each and every summer that I could get my mitts on it.

"L. M. Boston's thrilling and chilling tales of Green Knowe, a haunted manor deep in an overgrown garden in the English countryside, have been entertaining readers for half a century.

There are three children: Toby, who rides the majestic horse Feste; his mischievous little sister, Linnet; and their brother, Alexander, who plays the flute. The children warmly welcome Tolly to Green Knowe... even though they've been dead for centuries.

But that's how everything is at Green Knowe. The ancient manor hides as many stories as it does dusty old rooms. And the master of the house is great-grandmother Oldknow, whose storytelling mizes present and past with the oldest magic in the world." (Synopsis from Listen & Live Audio)


I was out with my friend Nina one spring evening and we discovered that we both loved this book as children. Between the two of us, we conjured up images and memories that were - in my world - long forgotten and living on the old, dusty shelves of my childhood public library.

So, like any trusty computer nerd - I went home that night and Googled The Children of Green Knowe. I learned that there is an actual English manor and estate gardens on which the book was based. H-h-h-o-l-y cow. My heart raced. Life has come full circle.

The author, Lucy M. Boston, lived at Hemmingford Grey while writing the books. The moated manor (now open to the public) is surrounded by cottage gardens that include two-hundred year old roses, stunning iris collections and topiary. Also (from the website), "There are hidden corners in the garden so visitors find themselves coming to unexpected parts which are unanticipated . . . "

In other words, heaven for any mischievous, imaginative child. Or, for a grown-up of that same disposition, for that matter (insert throat clearing 'here').

I chuckle to myself, when I think of Nina scheming of ways to get copies of the Green Knowe series - as an adult. "I got it. I'll buy it for my nephew, then I'll just borrow them from him, one by one," she tells me, with a determined brow. Uh-huh.

I may go treat myself to a copy of this book someday. Although, I'm not sure the newer version (in paperback) will read the same as an old well-worn hardback - missing the musty smells of a library and the dappled shade of my childhood home's big oak tree. But, I'm sure it will do.


Steph said...

oh my goodness! Now I want to read it! Well, I have the lucky excuse of a bookish 7 year old daughter!

There was a book I read as a kid with kids who traveled back in time to a grand old house just before a fire and there was a lot of sneaking around and trying to steal keys and rescues, etc. I cannot for the life of me remember the title, but I loved it! Keep trying to remember new details in hopes that it will come back. Even wandered the aisles at the library, looking at all the titles.

Tracey said...

I hope you can remember it - I would love to know.
I also saw this movie on PBS - "Carrie's War" - similar adventures and intruige!

Anonymous said...

Oh Miss Tracey,
What beautiful musings indeed! I felt my stomach tighten with nostalgia when I saw the book and read your description of the Green Knowe children. I am, for a moment, nine years old again.

Love, Nina

Anonymous said...

Two books that I know about time travel are Time at the Top and Tom's Midnight Garden. There is also the lesser known The Root Cellar. Any of those ring a bell?

Steph said...

OMG - Tom's Midnight Garden might be it!! Have to go to the library TODAY!