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Review of 'A Traveller in Time'


A Traveller in Time

By Alison Uttley, 1939

Middle grade, Historical fantasy

Rating: 👻👻1/2 (2.5 out of 4 boos)


What is the book about?

“Penelope Taberner Cameron is a solitary and a sickly child, a reader and a dreamer. Her mother, indeed, is of the opinion that the girl has grown all too attached to the products of her imagination and decides to send her away from London for a restorative dose of fresh country air. But staying at Thackers, in remote Derbyshire, Penelope is soon caught up in a new mystery, as she finds herself transported at unforeseeable intervals back and forth from modern to Elizabethan times. There she becomes part of a remarkable family that is, Penelope realizes, in terrible danger as they plot to free Mary, Queen of Scots, from the prison in which Queen Elizabeth has confined her.”


What’s the main character like?

The description of Penelope in the summary above is accurate, although I’ll add that she is very sensitive, often becoming overwhelmed with her emotions. She is a first-person narrator, seemingly looking back as an adult on these events that occurred during her younger years. This adult voice is very sophisticated and retrospective.


How scary is it?

There is one sort of scary, or at least suspenseful, scene in which a character from the Elizabethan world tries to harm Penelope. Overall, though, this book is very tame.


Who might like this book?

This book seems a bit like a kid-friendly House on the Strand due to its motif of time travel, so there might be some crossover of readers there. Overwhelmingly a book focusing on beautiful descriptions of Thackers past and present, A Traveller in Time will have appeal to readers who love setting details and love learning tidbits about historical daily life.


What did I like best?

There is a part near the end of the book where the pace picks up. Readers are left fearing for Penelope.


What was not so great?

The book was beautifully written but very slow. I often lost interest as Penelope floated in and out of the different eras without doing too much in either time period. Lots of singing and eating and walking.

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