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Laird Koenig (1927–2023)

Author of The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane

19 Works 385 Members 12 Reviews

About the Author

Works by Laird Koenig


Common Knowledge



I read this decades ago and loved it. All these years later it still holds a special place among books I’ve read. Having lost or donated the hardback over the years, I was astonished to discover this out of print book available on Kindle, albeit far too pricey. Reading this again after so much time has passed I find it just as mesmerizing as I did when younger. While the protagonist is a 13 year old girl of striking intelligence, this is definitely not a book for younger children. In essence, it is about the restrictions of society, the absurdity of conformity, and paints with sympathy a young English girl named Rynn who lives in a rural area with her father, a poet. Or does she?

That question is at the heart of this fabulous tale of isolation, and refusal to let others tell us how to live our lives. Laird Koenig brilliantly puts us in Rynn’s corner from the outset, as the first two “adults” we encounter are hideous human beings. One is the shrew-like owner of the cottage in the woods Rynn’s father has leased, the other her grown son, who very much likes little girls. As Rynn thwarts their intrusions, we too begin to suspect that something odd is behind the poet’s absence. Once we discover what it is, because Rynn must take drastic action in order to protect her secret and live a life of her own choosing, we find ourselves rooting for her. To reveal much more than that is to ruin this wonderful reading experience.

The introduction of Mario, the young boy whose magic tricks come in handy, adds just the right touch, because it further softens the readers’ view of Rynn, showing her to be as vulnerable as all of us, reminding us that she is indeed a 13 year old girl. This is a unique, wonderful book that time hasn’t diminished. The film, starring a 13 year old Jodie Foster, and Martin Sheen, is a minor cult classic, and the book is beloved by nearly everyone who’s ever read it. Five stars aren’t enough for a read this wonderful. The only thing that could make this book better is if Koenig had written a smile by Rynn into the final scene.

However, while the book itself is a minor masterpiece, the Kindle version I purchased is a train wreck. Not because of a few typos, which creep into all books, mainstream and independent, but the sloppiest proofing job I have ever encountered. Periods suddenly appear in the middle of sentences, quotation marks are missing at the beginning of dialog, yet appear occasionally within narrative with no dialog, and when italics are used to emphasize a word, no space occurs between the new italicized word and the previous word. Oddly, and fortunately, because these aren’t jarring, and the story is so involving, you just keep reading. It isn’t on rare occasion, however, it’s constant throughout the entire text of the book, as if someone hastily threw this together without bothering to do any proofing at all. For a novel as engrossing as this, of which a film has been made, it is almost mind-boggling that no more care was given to the Kindle version than this.

A wonderful story, a five star read decades ago, a five star read in 2016, when I posted this review. Picking up a used copy of the actual book, however, is definitely preferable to the Kindle version, which should definitely be a last resort.
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Matt_Ransom | 7 other reviews | Oct 6, 2023 |
This was a surprising and terrific read. It reminded me a bit of a more sinister ‘Lets’s Kill Uncle’. It doesn’t hold anything back.
Deni_Weeks | 7 other reviews | Sep 16, 2023 |
2021 movie #179. 1972. Link (Bronson), teams up with the Japanese ambassador's bodyguard (Mifune) to retrieve a ceremonial sword (stolen by Link's partner) meant as a gift for the US President. The clash of East vs West more physical than philosophical. Decent Western.
capewood | Oct 30, 2021 |
In 1976 Jodie Foster starred in a movie that scared the crap out of me. The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane. A thriller about a little girl who knew how to survive....how to take care of herself...no matter what. I had no idea that this creepy-cool film was based on a book by Laird Koenig until a few days ago. Remembering the movie that seriously creeped me out, I had to read the book. Luckily, a quick check of openlibrary.org turned up a scanned copy available online.

This book is a serious creep-fest just like the movie. Even better than the movie (of course).

Rynn lives in the large, old house at the end of the lane with her poet father. People who stop by seem to always arrive when her father is busy translating, writing or sleeping -- he is ill, you know. The house was leased for 3 years from Mrs. Hallet -- a pushy, wealthy real estate agent that is used to controlling everything around her. But Rynn won't allow Mrs. Hallet to bother her father. She won't allow her to see him. She also turns away her son, Frank....the neighborhood policeman that stops by....basically everyone. Only when she makes a new friend, Mario, does Rynn allow anyone to get close to her, to learn her secrets.

I had the BEST time reading this book! Awesomely creepy and suspenseful. I have to watch the movie again now as well. Jodie Foster was soooo good in it. Good enough to make me sleep with my light on for days afterwards. :) This story is subtle, psychological. There is no spurting blood or even blood-curdling screams. It's all a mind game.....a kid's game. Well....a kid who isn't really childlike in any way.

Awesome read for anyone who likes thrillers or suspense. The movie version changed the story a bit here and there, but it's a good movie. For those wanting to watch it -- the full movie is available on youtube: https://youtu.be/8z0zRAPBHuk

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JuliW | 7 other reviews | Nov 22, 2020 |



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