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Literature / The Green Knowe Chronicles

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The Green Knowe Chronicles are a series of six books by author Lucy M. Boston. These books tell the story of the adventures of a British boy, Tolly, and some other children, who visit the eponymous estate, a Norman manor house where the line between the past and the present, between the living and the dead, and between reality and fantasy, is blurred.

The novels are as follows:

  • 1. The Children of Green Knowe (1954)
  • 2. The Chimneys of Green Knowe a.k.a. The Treasure of Green Knowe (1958)
  • 3. The River of Green Knowe (1959)
  • 4. A Stranger at Green Knowe (1961)
  • 5. An Enemy at Green Knowe (1964)
  • 6. The Stones of Green Knowe (1976)

In The Children of Green Knowe, Tolly first arrives at the castle, called Green Noah here, and gradually learns that all is not as it seems as he learns to fit in.

  • Green Knowe is not a castle, but a (real) house of comparatively modest size.

In The Chimneys of Green Knowe, published in the United States under the title The Treasure of Green Knowe, Tolly hears the story of an ancestor from the turn of the nineteenth century, uncovering secrets to save Green Knowe.

In The River of Green Knowe, the estate is being rented for the summer by two old ladies, Dr. Biggin and Miss Bun. Dr. Biggin invites her niece, Ida, and two refugee children, Oskar and Ping, to stay at the castle for the summer. The children have many adventures along the nearby river.

In A Stranger at Green Knowe, Ping returns to the castle for another adventure. A gorilla, escaped from the zoo, has found its way to Green Knowe, and Ping seeks to hide it from the authorities.

In An Enemy at Green Knowe, Ping and Tolly meet, as the tale of an alchemist leads to a visit from a woman claiming to be a historian. However, this woman is not what she seems, and it quickly becomes clear that evil forces are at work.

The Stones of Green Knowe tells the story of how it all began, as Green Knowe is built a half-century after the Norman Conquest, and Roger d'Aulneaux, the lord's son, is the first to discover its secrets.

Children was adapted by The BBC in 1986 and Chimneys/Treasure was made into a film in 2009.

Provides Examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: Tolly (Toseland), Linnet, Sefton, Susan, Alexander, Jacob, Ida, Oskar, Ping.
  • Author Avatar: Tolly's grandmother is a possible example.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The Latin, French, and Hebrew in the books, some of which is untranslated.
  • A Boy and His X: Gorilla, in A Stranger at Green Knowe - Ping feels a powerful bond to Hanno when they first meet, and befriends Hanno when he's hiding at Green Knowe.
  • Brainwashed: In the fifth book, Melanie hypnotizes the grandmother to make her agree to anything. Ping snaps her out of it.
  • The Butler Did It: The fire and the theft of the treasure in the second book.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Subverted in the third book. The kids take the boat out in extremely dangerous weather, and there is plenty of foreshadowing of disaster (or, at least, punishment); however, nothing goes wrong, the kids are eventually found by the authorities and get off with a mild scolding.
  • Cassandra Truth: Tolly's claim to his schoolmates that Green Knowe is haunted.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The message in a bottle in the third book. At first, it seems to be setting up the adventure where the children experience a bronze age ritual, but a Call-Back in the fifth book sets up the tale of the alchemist, and ultimately, the main conflict of the story.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Mr. Pope in the fifth book.
  • Children Are Innocent: Pretty much the case throughout the series, but lampshaded in the second book.
  • Darker and Edgier: Book five.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Toseland, Linnet, and Roger.
  • Death by Newbery Medal: The book which won the Carnegie Medal is the fourth one, in which Hanno the gorilla gets shot.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Between Susan's time and the present day.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In the sixth book, Roger, a child of the twelfth century, is afraid of invasions, which can come without warning, and, in one scene, mistakenly thinks his village has been razed and his family slaughtered. Given the time in which the book was written, this could be an analogy to how people viewed the danger of nuclear war.
  • Downer Ending:
    • In the fourth book, Hanno's rescue of Ping is misunderstood, and he is shot.
    • In the sixth book, the eponymous stones are taken away to a museum, and Tolly will never again be able to go back in time.
  • Embarrassing Nickname:
    • In the first book, Tolly's original nickname, Toto.
    • And at school he's called "Towser".
  • Eternal English: In the sixth book. Let's face it, a real life Roger d'Aulneaux wouldn't just sound "uncouth" to a real life Toby, he would sound incomprehensible.
  • Evil Is Petty: Melanie.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Roger in the present day, until he reaches the familiarity of the castle.
  • Foreshadowing: The Persian mirror does this in the fifth book.
  • Gentle Giant: Terak.
  • Gentle Gorilla: Hanno.
  • Green Aesop: In the fourth and sixth books especially. Also, when the birds drive off the maggots in the fifth book, Tolly's grandmother delivers one. Overall, a love of nature seems to prevade the entire series.
  • Gypsy Curse: How the Green Noah became an evil tree.
  • Harmful to Minors: In the sixth book, when Roger sees the Saxons massacring the Britons in the sixth century, he initially believes that this is his own time, and that his own village is being massacred with his family having been killed.
  • Haunted House: In the first book, the house is haunted by the benevolent ghosts of three children.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Gay, of course, is used to mean happy, and a peep show is simply a spectacle.
  • Hollywood Law: In book five, when Melanie tries to trick Tolly's grandmother into deeding her the castle, much is made of the bizarre language. However, a glaringly obvious error is that, on the deed, Melanie is both the witness and the grantee of the property, which would invalidate the deed in any English-speaking country.
    • Of course, given that she is really the devil's daughter, it could be a case of Melanie not doing the research.
    • Alternatively, the book itself suggests that, with its bizarre language, the whole point of the deed was not to transfer the property, but to blackmail Tolly's grandmother, making her appear crazy for even signing such an instrument.
  • Humans Are Bastards:
    • In book three, humans trick a giant into joining a circus.
    • In book four, especially, considering how the humans (except Ping), put Hanno the gorilla in an untenable position.
  • Identical Grandson: Tolly and Roger, as well as their respective grandmothers, in the sixth book.
    • Due to the strong central theme/tone of recurrence and continuity throughout the series, names and faces repeat a lot in the Oldknow family. Tolly's great grandmother, the current owner of the house, notes this and specifically says Tolly looks a lot like his grandfather.
  • I Know Your True Name: Tolly and Ping discover Melanie's true name, They later realise they can use it in an exorcism ritual, which is what finally defeats her.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: Oskar.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: In the first book, Tolly has a dream that features one of these, regarding his Embarrassing Nickname.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Between Tolly's grandmother and Ping.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: Linnet's Green Noah rhyme.
  • Irony: Throughout the third book, Dr. Biggin has a fixation on looking for evidence of giants. When she finally sees a real live giant, she thinks it's a fake.
  • Istanbul (Not Constantinople): The Norman name for Green Knowe was Turbeville.
  • Jerkass: Caxton and Stefton in the second book.
  • Kick the Dog: When Melanie kills and mutilates the birds in retaliation for ruining her plague of maggots.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Jacob and Susan.
  • Magical Negro:
    • Subverted with Jacob. If anything, he is one of the least magical children in the series, and his one attempt at magic doesn't end well.
    • Ping is a straight Asian example, though.
  • Malicious Misnaming: In the fifth book, the boys derisively refer to Melanie as "Melanie Daisy".
  • Meaningful Name: Oldknow (who has access to old knowledge), Softly (who babies Susan), Biggin (who is fixated on giants), Bun (who prepares food), Powers (as in powers and principalities)( and her real name, Melusine Demogorgona Phospher).
  • Missing Mom: Tolly's mother is dead.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Melusine Demogorgona Phospher, especially given the in-universe explanation of the name.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Toby, Alexander, and Linnet are not ghosts; they are "the others".
  • Not What It Looks Like: In the second book, Jacob teaches Susan how to do somersaults. While she is wearing a dress. Mrs. Softly walks in on this, and initially mistakes it for something else.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Tolly, after the first book, Ping, after the third, and Toby.
  • Only One Name: Tolly, Jacob, Oscar, Hsu (Ping), Terak.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: The Ogru.
  • The Pen Is Mightier: Invoked by Oskar in the third book.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Tolly's grandmother, Susan's father, and Osmund d'Aulneaux.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The snakes in the fifth book.
  • The Reveal: Melanie Powers is really the devil's daughter.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: In the fifth book, the grandmother refers to Melusine as the devil's daughter, and to Demogorgon as another name for the devil. However, The Other Wiki refers to Melusine as a half-human water spirit, and Demogorgon as a demon, not the devil himself.
  • Scenery Porn: The author provides us with very vivid descriptions of the locations.
  • Separated by a Common Language: In England (and in these stories), tits are a type of bird.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • At the end of the second book, Tolly's grandmother talks about renting out the castle to an archaeologist and taking a holiday, which sets up the plot of the third book.
    • At the end of the the fourth book, Ping and Tolly's grandmother discuss inviting Ida back to Green Knowe. However, in this case, nothing more is said about this for the rest of the series.
  • Shown Their Work: The prologue to the fourth book, with the gorillas, is said to be an accurate description of their way of life.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Definitely on the idealistic side, with some exceptions.
  • Stable Time Loop:
    • Present especially in the second book, when Tolly saves the young man from capture, leaving subsequent generations guessing as to who was responsible.
    • In the sixth book, Tolly's grandmother, as a young girl, gives Roger d'Aulneaux a ring to pass down to his descendants. He returns to his own time, in the twelfth century, and does just that. Eventually, the ring is passed down to Tolly's grandmother, completing the loop.
  • Take That!: To the government, particularly in book four and at the end of book six.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Jonathan and Susan, after She Is All Grown Up.
  • Time Skip:
    • A ten year time skip between the prologue and the rest of the fourth book.
    • Time skips of several months in the sixth book.
  • Time Travel: Happens in the second book, and especially in the sixth.
  • The Unpronounceable: Ping's real name, Hsu.
  • Villain Ball: Why does Melanie use ridiculous language, referring to Gog and Magog, along with various occult references, on a property deed that is to be recorded? Again, as described in the Hollywood Law entry, the deed could have been designed for blackmail.
  • When It All Began:
    • For the series as a whole, discussed in detail in book six.
    • For the fourth book, the first chapter.
  • When Trees Attack: The old tree Green Noah is possessed by a demon as a result of a gypsy curse, and is capable of walking around in search of victims. It's ultimately destroyed by a bolt of lightning.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Tolly comments on his real name, Toseland, in the first book.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: Inverted in the sixth book. Roger is a young boy from the twelfth century who wears common leather clothing; when he is transported into modern times, people comment on how rich he must be, given that he wears leather.
  • Ye Goode Olde Days: Played with in the sixth book. Roger prefers his own time to some of the others, especially the nineteenth century and the present day, although he recognizes that some things (like buttons for clothes) are indeed an improvement. Perhaps justified, as this might be how a real twelfth-century Anglo-Norman might react to modernity. Of course, the book balances it out with Roger's recurring concerns about invasion, and his realistic fears of his family being slaughtered and the village massacred.