Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Book Review - L.M. Boston's Treasure of Green Knowe

Treasure Green Knowe (Green Knowe Book 2) by L.M. Boston
Published by: Odyssey
Publication Date: 1954
Format: Paperback, 192 Pages
Rating: ★★★
To Buy
Tolly is back at Green Knowe. After a truly magical Christmas he has been counting the days till he would go back and once again play with his ghostly ancestors. Yet this time things are different. Toby, Alexander and Linnet are nowhere to be found. Their painting is also gone, on display at a famous museum. The painting might not ever return... there has been an offer to buy it and the house is sadly in need of money if they are to keep it. One hope exists... treasure! Back in the 1800s the house had a very extravagant mistress, draped in jewels and finery. All the jewels disappeared the night of a fire which brought down the new wing of the house. Slowly Granny Oldknow weaves the story for Tolly about the evil manservant Caxton and the lovely Susan who was tragically blind but had the companionship of a young ex-slave Jacob, who was her eyes for her. Before long Tolly meets all these shades and starts to realize the house still has secrets held within her walls, and maybe in her chimneys.

Awhile back when I was having severe Downton Abbey withdrawals I learned that about a year before Downton Julian Fellowes, and a fair amount of the actors from the show, where in a movie he did called From Time to Time. I saw that it was part World War II, part Regency and all Hugh Bonneville, so I was sold. Maggie Smith was just an added bonus. The movie was adapted from the book The Chimneys of Green Knowe, or as it was released in the US, Treasure of Green Knowe, because apparently treasure appeals more to us money mad Americans than chimneys... also, the chimneys does give up a bit too much of the plot. Why the movie then went with the generic From Time to Time will never be known. Or why it wasn't released here, what with America's Dowton obsession. Needless to say, the movie was enjoyable, it pulled on the heartstrings and had lots of Empire waists. Maggie Smith was awesome, as per usual, Branson from Downton was NOT annoying, but my Branson issues could take up a full weeks worth of posts. Yet, me being me, I can't just watch a movie, I have to read the book... or in this case books, because I wasn't about to start with the second book in a series, The Children of Green Knowe being the first!

Firstly, using only the movie as my introduction to Green Knowe, I was happy to see that some of the more obvious ploys to tear out my heart and jump gleefully on it was all Julian Fellowes' doing. The book also had more layers and nuance that made it come alive. The way Granny Oldknow tells the story by the curtains in the house that have been mended for generations by the fabric of those who came before is magical. To think of having the opportunity of having your heritage hung on the wall like the coolest of crazy quilts appeals to the romantic in me. Also the friendship and bond between Susan and Jacob is explored more. We see the trust develop over time, not just the handy movie trick of "fast friends." L.M. Boston also dwelt in great detail on what it would be like to be blind and how this gave Susan an entirely different world to that which people with all their senses experience. Also it led more naturally to Tolly and Susan being able to communicate to each other, being ghosts in each others times. Needless to say, the next book in the series will shortly be picked up because these are wonderful children's classics indeed.


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