The Stones of Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston
The Stones of Green Knowe completes Boston’s series, and aptly takes us right back to the beginning of Green Knowe: to its original construction in 1120 A.D. The very first of the Green Knowe children is Roger, the grandson of a Norman Earl, who is excited beyond words at the building of a two-storied stone house, complete with windows. Roger’s days are spent watching the flocks and exploring the construction site, with as much attention given to historical accuracy and detail as one would expect from Rosemary Sutcliffe. Like all the previous young protagonists, he is surrounded both by semi-mysterious characters sympathetic to his situation (such as the Viking Olaf Olafson, who gifts him with a magical knife, and another kindly grandmother reminiscent of the not-yet-born Grandmother Oldknow), and characters that make his life a little bit more difficult — such as a snobbish mother, not the first one to appear in Boston’s books, leading me to believe that the author knew one personally.
Yet despite being surrounded by all this excitement, Roger becomes captivated by the talk of the workers, who mention among themselves two mysterious stones out on the hills: “Surely you’ve heard of them? Very old, they were. Two of them standing out alone on a grassy hill at twilight, it gave you the jumps to see them.” Roger, along with his horse Viking and his dog Watchet, seek them out, and by clearing away some brush, discovers the King and Queen Stones: the source of the magic of Green Knowe.
From there the real adventures begin, as Roger discovers what later generations have yet to do: time travel back and forth to discover the other children of Green Knowe, and the fate of his beloved home. In true Lucy Boston style, there is added in little notes of Roger’s discomfort at the environmental destruction of the forest, but it never overshadows what we are really interested in: his meetings with Toby, Alexander and Linnet, with Susan and Jacob, and with Tolly, all living in the same house at different times. Marveling at the differences they all face, the reader is eventually rewarded with a beautiful scene of all the children gathered together under the beech tree… joined by yet another unexpected child, who gives Roger a special keepsake.
After six books in the series, I was very sad to see its end, as with all great literature, I had grown quite attached to Green Knowe and its inhabitants. It was a touch of genius to have the final book take place at ‘the beginning’ as it were, as we finally can understand where St Christopher came from, how Green Knowe got its name, and how the time traveling was made possible in the first place: through the Stones, whose origins remain an eternal mystery. If there was one fault, it was that Ping, Ida and Oskar were completely absent — in the final book, surely it would have been the right time to bring ALL the children together, but it seems Boston wanted to keep only the children of Roger’s bloodline in for simplicity’s sake.
The Stones of Green Knowe is the perfect ending to a stunning series of somewhat unknown books, leaving us with the major theme of the books: the ongoing battle to protect that which is natural and beautiful. I found it extremely fitting that the book ended with one last enigma concerning the fate of the Stones, and what appears to be the end of the time-traveling, for the last sentence of this last book took my breath away in its sadness and potency.