The River at Green Knowe


The third of Lucy M Boston's Green Knowe books, The River at Green Knowe, takes the story away from the old house and out onto the river. There is no Tolly in this book, and no Grandmother Oldknow -- instead, the house is leased for the summer (ooh, I just realised the first three books go winter, spring, summer) to two ladies and three displaced children, Ida, Oskar and Ping.

Evidently the magic clinging to the house extends to the river, because the three children have numerous magical experiences -- from flying horses to encounters with a giant. Oskar shrinks to the size of a field mouse, they meet a hermit, and go back in time to a moonlight ceremony older even than the ancient house itself. But there is also the everyday magic of swimming, rowing, picnicking, and shooting through the locks in flood.

As a child, I didn't read The River as often as the other books, being at heart in indoor rather than an outdoor person, but I enjoyed it this time more than I expected. The friendship between the three children is lovely. 'There isn't anything real except thoughts,' says Oskar, so I suppose the magic in this book might be created by the children themselves, just as they create the long river map on a roll of wallpaper. But that's a very grown up attitude, just like Dr Maud Biggins, who refuses to recognise a giant even when she sees him with her own eyes, so I think I'll side with the children instead and say it's all real.

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