Illustrated by Omar Rayyan
Exploring an ancient house in the idyllic countryside, Penelope accidentally travels through time to the magic and intrigue of Elizabethan England.
‘To this day every detail of my strange experience is clear as light.’ At the beginning of Alison Uttley’s enthralling novel, the heroine Penelope savours her memories of a childhood adventure
in which time travel, tragedy and the magic of the countryside are intertwined. A delicate girl with a feverish imagination, Penelope is sent to stay with her genial aunt and uncle at Thackers, a manor house deep in the Derbyshire countryside. She enters a world of wood-smoke, haystacks and cavernous oak trees, beautifully evoked in Uttley’s simple, lyrical prose. A city child, Penelope is smitten with the ‘hot scents of the herb garden’, the ‘honeysuckle after rain’ and the churchyard lawn ‘smooth as green silk’.
Into this idyllic world comes an adventure that connects Penelope with the intrigue-filled past of the ancient house. Soon after her arrival, she mistakes a closed door for her aunt’s bedroom and sees four ladies in Elizabethan dress, playing a game with ivory counters. Penelope has inadvertently uncovered ‘the secret of Thackers’, and from here, for several years, she inhabits two realms of time, slipping imperceptibly between early 20th century England and the era of Queen Elizabeth I and the Babington Plot, in which Anthony Babington attempted to save Mary Queen of Scots and smuggle her to France. At first, the conspirators think her a ‘witch-girl’ or a ghost but they soon become her friends, appealing to her knowledge of the future in the hope of averting tragedy.
In her affectionate introduction, author Joanna Briscoe (who herself had a rural upbringing) notes that Uttley grew up near Dethick Manor – the real Thackers. The house nourished her childhood dreams of inhabiting another time. Inspired by those dreams, A Traveller in Time is at once a wistful picture of rural life, a haunting story of first love and an engaging portrait of a turbulent passage in British history. This edition includes enchanting illustrations by Omar Rayyan.
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Review by BLDiep on 8th Mar 2014
"This is a charming book, which must be one of the first time-travel themed children's books. Penelope goes to Thacker Hall, which turns out to be a portal to the Elizabethan era. The present is warm, ..." [read more]