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31 December 2013 @ 11:31 pm
Recent Reads: A Stranger at Green Knowe  

I admit that I have stayed up slightly too late tonight so I could add one more book onto my “books read in 2013″ list, which I believe has capped out at about 65 books. Not quite as good as last year, when I think I managed around 75, but a lot better than my nadir of 15. @.@


I re-read all of the Green Knowe books repeatedly as a child, but reading them again as an adult has been a revelation. The descriptions and the ability to reveal the world the way a child sees it are unparalleled throughout, even in RIVER, which is less a novel than a series of vignettes strung together on the back of a river.

STRANGER is the most powerful and heartbreaking of the four I’ve re-read so far; it’s the story of Hanno the gorilla, captured in the Congo as a baby, and Ping, an orphan who befriends him. The first fifty or so pages are entirely from Hanno’s viewpoint and are simply magnificent. When we return to Green Knowe and Ping’s story, we’re brought back to the delight and charm and simplicity of youthful storytelling, which is maintained all the way up through the relentless and inevitable end. It’s masterfully done.

And, in counterpoint, there are also moments of dreadful racism, made all the worse by the utter beauty they’re surrounded by. In this, they’re a product of their time, which is not to forgive the flaw, but to acknowledge what may be the only aspect of the books that (thankfully) isn’t timeless.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

desperance: lukedesperance on December 31st, 2013 10:40 pm (UTC)
I've been to Green Knowe, I am just sayin'. Just a year too late to meet Lucy, but her daughter-in-law Diana showed us around.
kitmizkit on December 31st, 2013 10:43 pm (UTC)
Oh, man. So close and yet so far! I've wanted to visit there since learning it was a place you *could* visit, but it's intensified while re-reading these books.

Her writing reminds me of yours. Or vice versa, since I came to hers first, I suppose, but yours is more familiar to me at this point.
desperancedesperance on December 31st, 2013 10:48 pm (UTC)
Her writing reminds me of yours.

Heh. That ... may not be entirely coincidental. We all have echo-chambers, that resonate most deeply with the tracks we laid down first. As it were.
kitmizkit on December 31st, 2013 10:50 pm (UTC)
I suspected, when I realized (just this evening, while reading STRANGER, in fact), that it might not be entirely coincidental, yes. There are certainly worse echo-chambers to choose.
Nicholas: 11nwhyte on December 31st, 2013 11:31 pm (UTC)
It really is my favourite of the books - though a very long time since I've read it - and was the only one of the series to win the Carnegie Medal (the first two were runners-up). It's got one of those endings that stays with you for decades.
aberwyn on December 31st, 2013 11:35 pm (UTC)
I'll have to look for the Green Knowe book.

I only managed to read 36 books this year and didn't get around to reviewing all of them, either. (Several were by Chaz.)
mevennenmevennen on January 1st, 2014 10:48 am (UTC)
I re-read them regularly. Visiting the house is definitely on the bucket list.
kitmizkit on January 1st, 2014 11:26 am (UTC)
Yes, absolutely!