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While visiting Thackers Manor in 1934, dreamy Penelope becomes involved in a 16th century plot to rescue Mary, Queen of Scots. A beloved time travel story that has endured for generations.


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While visiting Thackers Manor in 1934, dreamy Penelope becomes involved in a 16th century plot to rescue Mary, Queen of Scots. A beloved time travel story that has endured for generations.

30 review for A Traveller in Time

  1. 5 out of 5

    Manybooks

    As a young and lonely teenager, I both dreamed of and desperately wanted to open a door and be magically transported into the past and thus Allison Uttley's A Traveller in Time (where young Penelope Taberner does precisely that) was right up my proverbial alley so to speak (especially since she is transported into the past of the United Kingdom). However, as Penelope is caught up in the life and times of a rural Tudor manor house and the Babingtons' striving to save Mary Queen of Scots, both her As a young and lonely teenager, I both dreamed of and desperately wanted to open a door and be magically transported into the past and thus Allison Uttley's A Traveller in Time (where young Penelope Taberner does precisely that) was right up my proverbial alley so to speak (especially since she is transported into the past of the United Kingdom). However, as Penelope is caught up in the life and times of a rural Tudor manor house and the Babingtons' striving to save Mary Queen of Scots, both her and also the reader's infatuation with especially young and dashing Francis Babington is clouded by the knowledge of the future (of British history), that the family's plot to free Mary Queen of Scots from imprisonment is doomed to epically fail (and the first time I read A Traveller in Time knowing what would happen, being painfully aware of the fact that the Babingtons would not succeed, did bother me a tiny bit, but it also piqued my historical interest and made me engage in supplemental research on Tudor England which definitely helped me in grade nine when we were taking the history of the British and Scottish monarchies in Social Studies). Although readers not all that versed in Tudor history (and especially the religious conflicts of the time between Church of England Queen Elizabeth I and her Roman Catholic cousin Mary Queen of Scots) might time find A Traveller in Time potentially a trifle difficult and challenging, the novel is indeed (and in my humble opinion) a simply and utterly wonderful, enlightening sojourn and romp, not only into the past to which Penelope travels, but also into 1930s rural Derbyshire from where or perhaps more to the point from whence Penelope opens her aunt's farmhouse doors into the past, into Tudor era Derbyshire. And while the pace of A Traveller in Time is definitely rather slow and descriptive, this is to and for me precisely what has always made this novel such a constant and perennial favourite (although yes, if a potential reader really does need and require constant action and adventure, then A Traveller in Time would likely not be that good a choice or that successful a reading fit).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Choko

    *** 4 *** I love the way this author tells a children's story! It has the feel of a fairy tale, but using time travel as a means to connect a girl living in the 1930's Chelsea, England with the 16th century Tudor period. The book itself was published in 1939 and the author was one of J. R. R. Tolkien's favorites:) And since everyone who loves stories of this sort likes to compare them to Narnia, I would say that C.S. Lewis took some inspiration from Ms. Uttley's, much earlier book:) A group of si *** 4 *** I love the way this author tells a children's story! It has the feel of a fairy tale, but using time travel as a means to connect a girl living in the 1930's Chelsea, England with the 16th century Tudor period. The book itself was published in 1939 and the author was one of J. R. R. Tolkien's favorites:) And since everyone who loves stories of this sort likes to compare them to Narnia, I would say that C.S. Lewis took some inspiration from Ms. Uttley's, much earlier book:) A group of siblings visit their aunt and uncle in a country farmhouse for a time and Penelope, who is a dreamer, finds herself traveling through time and connecting with the people who used to live in this place in the 1500's... It so happens that they were supporters of the exiled Queen Mary, and were involved in an attempt to free her from her house imprisonment. Penelope wants to warn them and desperately wishes she could change their faiths, but she learns that history is very stubborn and doesn't allow meddling with it. I have very fond memories of the first time reading this book. I have always been a devoted fan of children's tales, Fantasy of any kind and history. This is a gentle mixture of all of them, very accessible to children and as it did in my case, makes you want to learn more about the Tudor period and the whole line of Tudors as a whole. I can honestly say that this was the first book that made me want to read more about British History, since that was not a point of great educational focus for the Bulgarian School curriculum. Overall, I think this is a wonderful read for young people and a very gentle tale. May awaken their historical curiosity as it did mine.🙂

  3. 4 out of 5

    Hilary

    We really loved this book. Penelope goes to live at her Aunt's manor house and farm, and finds herself slipping back in time to visit ancient relatives that are caught up in the Babington plot, seeking to overthrow Queen Elizabeth and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots. This book was slow to get into but we loved it more and more. There are long descriptions which probably lend more to reading to self than reading aloud, but did give a great insight into daily life in Elizabethan times. We fo We really loved this book. Penelope goes to live at her Aunt's manor house and farm, and finds herself slipping back in time to visit ancient relatives that are caught up in the Babington plot, seeking to overthrow Queen Elizabeth and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots. This book was slow to get into but we loved it more and more. There are long descriptions which probably lend more to reading to self than reading aloud, but did give a great insight into daily life in Elizabethan times. We found the details of what they ate and how they lived fascinating. We thought perhaps this book had inspired The Children of Green knowe, but if it did, they are both very different, but both very great childrens books. There were several derogatory terms for women that I feel don't have any place in a childrens book, but perhaps these words were not so offensive when the book was written. The other minor downside of this book is that since it is set in rural 1930s it sometimes was not always easy to tell when the time had changed. However this is still a very poignant book about loyalties, family, and attachments to homes and history and how memories of people live on.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Caren

    Feeling a bit overcome by stress this time of year, I decided I needed to escape into a classic British children's book, books which are not just for children, after all. For the past several days, I would look forward to retreating to bed early, entering the world of Penelope Taberner Cameron. I would have loved this book when I was young, as I have always been fascinated by time travel. As an adult, I loved the story, but also appreciated the rich, evocative language and the dream-like, wistfu Feeling a bit overcome by stress this time of year, I decided I needed to escape into a classic British children's book, books which are not just for children, after all. For the past several days, I would look forward to retreating to bed early, entering the world of Penelope Taberner Cameron. I would have loved this book when I was young, as I have always been fascinated by time travel. As an adult, I loved the story, but also appreciated the rich, evocative language and the dream-like, wistful style of writing. Penelope lives in the early twentieth century, but is able to pass into sixteenth-century England when she is visiting her family's manor house in the country. Here is the classic British plot of three children being sent away from London to stay with older relatives in a very old country house which holds secrets from its past for the right person to discover. Penelope, the youngest of the three children, is considered a bit dreamy, so her sister and brother don't pay much attention to her mentions of her travels. Her aunt, however, is aware that some family members, through time, have had this gift, and validates Penelope's experiences. Over several years of visits to the house, as Penelope is growing up, she travels back to a specific time in the life of the house, a time when the Babingtons owned the house and Penelope's ancestors were servants there. The Babingtons were involved in a plot to unseat---in fact, to murder---Queen Elizabeth in order to place Mary, Queen of Scots on the throne and restore the Catholic religion to England. Penelope is well aware the plot failed, with tragic ends for Mary as well as the Babingtons. As she continually visits the past, she comes to love the Babingtons and their servants. In particular, she quietly falls in love with the younger Babington son, Francis, a feeling which is reciprocated. While she visits the past, time stands still for her in the present, so that she returns to just the moment she had left. While in Elizabethan England, she is uneasily, subtly aware that tragedy looms, but she is unable to quite realize it, thoroughly voice it, or stop it while she is in that time. There is a sort of nightmare feel to that, and , indeed, the author notes in a foreword that some of the scenes in the book came directly from dreams she had. Some of the closing scenes describe Christmas celebrations in Elizabethan England, which include the visit of mummers to the manor house. (This tied in nicely for me with the season and with another book I was reading.) This book is superbly written and , having originally been published in 1939, has stood the test of time. I read its wistful ending with a sigh, knowing my visit with Penelope was at an end. What a lovely read!

  5. 5 out of 5

    JimZ

    I very much liked this book. I am not sure my review will entice anybody to put it on their TBR list but that’s OK. We pick our books for all sorts of reasons. This book I chose because I subscribe to the New York Review of Books and I buy the periodical as much for the book ads from private presses, university presses, and the New York Review of Books (NYRB) Publishers, as I do the actual articles in the periodical (which are great). NYRB Publishers have the BEST books, and I doubt anybody woul I very much liked this book. I am not sure my review will entice anybody to put it on their TBR list but that’s OK. We pick our books for all sorts of reasons. This book I chose because I subscribe to the New York Review of Books and I buy the periodical as much for the book ads from private presses, university presses, and the New York Review of Books (NYRB) Publishers, as I do the actual articles in the periodical (which are great). NYRB Publishers have the BEST books, and I doubt anybody would disagree with me on that. And they are a relative bargain. And they bring books out of hibernation….books that are out of print but for one reason or another should be available to me you and the rest of the world. So, one day I came upon a NYRB advertisement for one of their books and it is this one. And it is a young adolescent (YA) work but this did not dissuade me because the description hooked me and it was this: • Penelope Taberner Cameron is a solitary and sickly child, a reader and a dreamer. Her mother, indeed, is if the opinion that the girl has grown all to 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 in Thackers, in remote Derbyshire, Penelope is soon caught up in a new mystery, as she finds herself transported unexpectedly 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. Penelope knows the tragic end that awaits the Scottish queen but she can neither change the course of events nor persuade her new family of the hopelessness of their cause, which love, loyalty, and justice all compel them to embrace. Caught between present and past, Penelope is ever more torn by questions of freedom and fate. To travel in time, Penelope discovers, is to be very much alone. And yet the slow recurrent rhythms of the natural world also speak of a greater ongoing life that transcends the passage of years. The book for some people might be a slow read. Number one, we all know what happens to Mary, Queen of Scots. Number two, nothing much happens. But the way Alison Utley is able to write and to transport me to a small English village both in the 1930s and also in the late 1500s, and to describe life amongst those who live in Thackers, is truly a treat. Most of Penelope’s relatives and ancestors are simple but kind folk. Her description of life at Thackers and such things as the different herbs found in the forest or Christmas time in the late 1500s took me back to somewhere I wanted to go, at least for an hour or two. What’s funny in a way is that when I ordered the book online I got a non-NYRB edition – it was from Jane Nissen Books (London), 2007. Each chapter (14 of them) had a nice woodcut at the beginning from 1977 by Faith Jacques (illustrator of one issue of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, https://www.peterharrington.co.uk/com... ). And there was an Introduction to the book by Margaret Mahy which was quite nice (a children’s writer, twice winner of the Carnegie Medal [as of 2012 only 1 of 7 to have achieved two Carnegie awards], and at her death one of thirty writers to win the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Medal for her "lasting contribution to children's literature). I thought Allison Uttley was interesting - this is from the NYRB: Alison Uttley (1884–1976) was born Alice Jane Taylor in Derbyshire, England, into a tenant farming family that had lived on the same land for two hundred years. Uttley would return to the Derbyshire landscape and the house she grew up in, Castle Top Farm, in many of her books, including A Traveller in Time. A bright scholarship student throughout her childhood, Uttley went on to Manchester University, and in 1906 became the second female student to graduate with honors in physics from the university. Marriage and motherhood put an end to her teaching career, and it was only after her son, John, began school that she published her first book, The Squirrel, the Hare and the Little Grey Rabbit (1929). Uttley’s husband died the next year, and she began publishing books at a rapid rate in order to support herself and her son. Among her works are naturalistic novels of youth, adventure tales, and a cookbook, as well as books that grew out of her belief in enchantment, time travel, and the supernatural. By the end of her life, Uttley had written some one hundred books of fiction and nonfiction, including thirty in the little Grey Rabbit series, and become one of twentieth-century Britain’s most popular children’s writers. If you go to the Wikipedia website you see the productivity of this writer, yikes!!! Children’s books, memoirs, essays: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alison_... Further article on Uttley: https://www.theguardian.com/books/200... She admired Walter de la Mare, an author and a fellow believer in time travel.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Pondering Pig Newton

    Is there an American anywhere in this country who lives in the same house where his great-grandmother was born? This story is set in a world so foreign to us it might as well be fantasy, a world where families and the land they live on are deeply bound together -- forever, it would seem. A self-sufficient world where money is nearly irrelevant. Actually, it is the common world as people experienced it before the Industrial Revolution -- when most never travelled farther than a day's walk from ho Is there an American anywhere in this country who lives in the same house where his great-grandmother was born? This story is set in a world so foreign to us it might as well be fantasy, a world where families and the land they live on are deeply bound together -- forever, it would seem. A self-sufficient world where money is nearly irrelevant. Actually, it is the common world as people experienced it before the Industrial Revolution -- when most never travelled farther than a day's walk from home. But, rather than dwell on the isolation, frustration suffocation etc etc that industrial people tend to imagine that world would be like, Uttley finds deep roots and full-throated pleasures, a society where, for example, girls sing rounds together at their work without self-consciousness. Uttley pulls this off because she is a brilliant writer. I felt like I had gone time travelling myself and wandered into an Elizabethan era farm in Derbyshire. Her prose is delicious and wholesome, like the world she describes. I think this book could be opened at random and read as an meditative exercise. There is a plot of sorts, but just enough of it to hang a different world on. It concerns a pre-adolescent girl living in pre-WWI England. She has the gift of 'second sight', and finds herself pulled into a drama unfolding on the same farm three hundred years before she is born. Uttley wrote this in the late 30s, as war clouds loomed over England and, as she looks back on the rural world of her childhood and the older Elizabethan world, I couldn't but feel a sense of sadness and loss brooding over the pages. It's really a most remarkable book. Thanks to Goodreads friend Anne for pointing it out.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    I don't think this is a well-known fantasy novel, but it certainly deserves to be. When Penelope stays with her aunt and uncle at Thackers farm, she slips back in time to the 16th century, when the Babington family lived at Thackers and plotted to help Mary Queen of Scots, imprisoned by Elizabeth I. Uttley evokes both Penelope's life on the farm and her experiences in Tudor England with a sure touch and lovely language, and although A Traveller in Time is quietly written, it's haunting and emoti I don't think this is a well-known fantasy novel, but it certainly deserves to be. When Penelope stays with her aunt and uncle at Thackers farm, she slips back in time to the 16th century, when the Babington family lived at Thackers and plotted to help Mary Queen of Scots, imprisoned by Elizabeth I. Uttley evokes both Penelope's life on the farm and her experiences in Tudor England with a sure touch and lovely language, and although A Traveller in Time is quietly written, it's haunting and emotionally powerful, as Penelope is drawn further and further into the events of the past, knowing that she can't change history but becoming attached to her Elizabethan life and friends.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. If you like time travel and English history and wistfulish endings, this is the book for you. I loved it! Yes, it does take a little bit to get into it, but once you're in, you're in! Penelope's longing to help her friends from the past is always unfulfilled, but I kept rooting her on, willing her to try again, hoping maybe someone would hear her. I loved the way "Greensleeves" was wound in and out of the story plot. I admit, after reading this book, I came away with more sympathy for the Babing If you like time travel and English history and wistfulish endings, this is the book for you. I loved it! Yes, it does take a little bit to get into it, but once you're in, you're in! Penelope's longing to help her friends from the past is always unfulfilled, but I kept rooting her on, willing her to try again, hoping maybe someone would hear her. I loved the way "Greensleeves" was wound in and out of the story plot. I admit, after reading this book, I came away with more sympathy for the Babingtons and Mary Queen of Scots than I expected to. I've always been staunchly for Queen Elizabeth, but I wholly agreed with Dame Cicely when she says, "I say 'God save Queen Elizabeth,' but I would like the poor Scottish Queen, who has seen such terrible trouble, to be safe and sound overseas." That was the very best statement about being loyal to Queen Bess, and still being kind to Queen Mary that I ever read. I also felt badly about Francis. Oh, how I wanted Penelope to stay back with him, or for him to escape the trouble and trials by coming back with her! Of course, I knew he would never desert his brother, and Penelope loved her family far too much, but still...!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Sammis

    You'll probably notice the different spelling. I'm going with the British spelling as A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley is a British novel. As the title implies, the novel is a time travel story but the time travel is a method for uniting the present (1934) with a wonderfully told historical fiction set around the Babington Plot. Penelope Thacker is a bit fey as apparently all the Penelopes in the Thacker family and she begins to experience things from the past but try as she might, she canno You'll probably notice the different spelling. I'm going with the British spelling as A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley is a British novel. As the title implies, the novel is a time travel story but the time travel is a method for uniting the present (1934) with a wonderfully told historical fiction set around the Babington Plot. Penelope Thacker is a bit fey as apparently all the Penelopes in the Thacker family and she begins to experience things from the past but try as she might, she cannot change them. As Penelope begins to live half her life in the past she learns how to live in the 1580s. Alison Uttley fills the world of the Thacker Manor with the mundane details of running a home and farm along with the big events surrounding the imprisoning of Mary Stuart. Uttley's novel has enough historical information to teach the basics of the Babington Plot without hitting one over the head with facts, dates and figures. Readers knowledgeable of the events will enjoy filling in the missing details. Readers not as familiar with the history can still follow along and enjoy the time travel aspects of the novel.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lidija

    This isn't a story, it's a gateway into another world. I've read this book so many times and still find it beautiful and utterly believable: you can smell the herbs in the linen chests, hear the singing, feel the breeze on your face. I'm still a bit in love with Francis Babbington, and let me warn you, it's fictional heroes like him that cause little girls to grow into women with unrealistic expectations of men.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    Absolutely enchanting YA novel. I only wish I had read it as a young girl, so that I could have fond memories of it! The black & white illustrations are a bonus :) The house, Thackers, has been added to my "houses as characters" category. Like Mary Stewart's Thornyhold, it forms a strong presence in the story. I would adore living there... Absolutely enchanting YA novel. I only wish I had read it as a young girl, so that I could have fond memories of it! The black & white illustrations are a bonus :) The house, Thackers, has been added to my "houses as characters" category. Like Mary Stewart's Thornyhold, it forms a strong presence in the story. I would adore living there...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Particle_Person

    This is one of the best books I have ever read. The ending is both wistful and sad and inevitable. Penelope repeatedly slips back in time at her family's ancient country farm, Thackers, to the 1580s and then back to her present, 1906-08. Penelope's ancestors were servants to the Babingtons, who are fundamentally nice people (with a few exceptions). She becomes part of their family, in the 16th century, accepted as a sort of cousin who nobody can quite place and who tends to vanish without notice This is one of the best books I have ever read. The ending is both wistful and sad and inevitable. Penelope repeatedly slips back in time at her family's ancient country farm, Thackers, to the 1580s and then back to her present, 1906-08. Penelope's ancestors were servants to the Babingtons, who are fundamentally nice people (with a few exceptions). She becomes part of their family, in the 16th century, accepted as a sort of cousin who nobody can quite place and who tends to vanish without notice. The eldest Babington son, Anthony, is deeply involved in a plot to spirit Mary, Queen of Scots out of England to France. Mary is being held prisoner in the farm next to Thackers and Anthony is excavating a tunnel. Penelope knows from the outset that he doesn't succeed, that he eventually dies, but Penelope finds she can't make big changes to history. (This also has the effect of ridding the book of time travel paradoxes.) She can change how people feel about events but not the events themselves. This becomes the true subject of the book: how people feel about history as they are living it, and later looking backward. The reader and Penelope and the Babingtons know how it will end. They hope otherwise, but they know. Anthony knows he is doomed but he tries to save Queen Mary anyway, because he loves her. Penelope knows she can't save them but she keeps returning because she loves the Babingtons. And the house, Thackers, is always there. Side note: If you love old houses, this ia a book you should read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    A Traveller In Time was one of my favourite books as a child - the idea that someone could step through some sort of portal and witness historically-significant events fascinated me. It still does, to be honest, so I was excited to return to a modern edition of the book, which I read aloud to my 10-year-old daughter. The book's "present" is 1930's Britain, initially the Cameron family's home in Chelsea, which was then a working and lower-middle-class suburb of London. For the remainder of the boo A Traveller In Time was one of my favourite books as a child - the idea that someone could step through some sort of portal and witness historically-significant events fascinated me. It still does, to be honest, so I was excited to return to a modern edition of the book, which I read aloud to my 10-year-old daughter. The book's "present" is 1930's Britain, initially the Cameron family's home in Chelsea, which was then a working and lower-middle-class suburb of London. For the remainder of the book, we travel north to Derbyshire with early teenage Penelope and her older siblings, Ian and Alison. They are sent to stay for several weeks with their great aunt and uncle, Cicely (Aunt "Tissie") and Barnaby, at the Taberner family farmhouse, Thackers. It seems that a rare power, to see and/or travel backwards to an earlier time, has occasionally been bestowed upon certain women in the Taberner female line, a power that Penelope seems to have inherited and that Aunt Tissie also experienced briefly as a young woman. At first, Penelope experiences this by glimpsing people dressed in an Elizabethan manner through windows and open doors. Within a short period, she finds she is able to step through doors which appear only to her and join in the activities of the Thackers estate as it was in the early 1580s. She's taken under the wing of the housekeeper, "Aunt Cicely" Taberner, who bears a striking resemblance to her own Aunt Tissie, and seems to have some sympathy with the nature of Penelope's visits. The farmhouse is owned by the wealthy Babington family of Derby, who secretly practice as Catholics and support the cause of the captive Mary, Queen of Scots. The remainder of the book sees Penelope visit the past on several occasions over two separate stays at present-day (1930s) Thackers. The strangely-dressed and unusually literate Penelope is accepted into the daily life of 16th-century Thackers, both above and below stairs and gets to know members of the Babington family, owner Anthony Babington, his young new wife, his mother Mistress Foljambe, and his younger brother, Francis Babington. Gradually, she is made aware of a plan on which Anthony is working, to allow for the escape of the Scottish Queen from nearby Wingfield Manor, where she is temporarily imprisoned, via underground tunnels to Thackers and thence to freedom in France. (Note that this is a plot that predates the notorious "Babington Plot" of 1585-6, whose discovery spelled the doom of both Anthony Babington and Queen Mary). Penelope's sense of foreboding about Anthony's involvement with the Queen is constant, although her ability to recall specifics of what their "future" (which to her is British history) entails waxes and wanes over the duration of her journeys into the past. She builds a sympathetic relationship with the younger brother, Francis Babington, who is aware of her forebodings and her origins in a future time. Alison Uttley's prose is beautifully elegant and descriptive, as she describes the coming and going of the seasons in both ages at Thackers and the attendant work of the farm and household. She explores an idea of the simultaneously parallel and circular nature of time and the unrelenting and familiar passage of the days and seasons, regardless of human concerns and dramas taking place. Uttley was a contemporary and friend of C.S. Lewis at Cambridge (where she studied maths and physics) and her writing was reputedly much admired by him and J.R.R. Tolkien. A Traveller in Time has certainly stood the test of time as one of the seminal works of the golden age of children's fantasy literature. Her depictions of Thackers were based upon her own experience of living in the area as a child, and Penelope's adventures upon a series of dreams she reputedly had in which she visited the ill-fated past inhabitants of the farm. I was very excited to learn that the property upon which Uttley based Thackers, which was a seat of the Babington family during the 16th century still stands, and in fact operates as an accommodation business. Now I desperately want to go and stay there! I should add that my daughter wasn't quite as engaged in the story as I was. Although it's an enthralling story, the complex prose and relatively languid plot development might make this a challenging read for younger readers of the twenty-first century.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Louise / Daisy May Johnson

    It's interesting how you can sometimes come to the right book at the wrong time. The first time I read this book, I was in the basement of a dusty university library and I was late for my shift. I skim-read and I did not really get it. I suppose you wouldn't get anything under such circumstances, not when your mind is elsewhere and the sort of book you're reading isn't the sort to want to bring you back. I know that A Traveller In Time doesn't work like that. It doesn't seek to be heard; rather It's interesting how you can sometimes come to the right book at the wrong time. The first time I read this book, I was in the basement of a dusty university library and I was late for my shift. I skim-read and I did not really get it. I suppose you wouldn't get anything under such circumstances, not when your mind is elsewhere and the sort of book you're reading isn't the sort to want to bring you back. I know that A Traveller In Time doesn't work like that. It doesn't seek to be heard; rather it wants you to listen, and sometimes it takes a long while to find the moment where that can occur. But it does occur, that is the thing with these books; moments happen when you least expect them, and I found a copy of this in a seaside town this week and I thought: it is time that I read this again. Properly. Completely. Not with the sort of half mind that looks elsewhere, but rather my whole attention. And so I did, and I realised that this is a fearlessly well-told story in the manner of something very eternal in British children's literature; complex, challenging, wildly magical, ferociously melancholic, and rather, utterly good. It is also that rare thing: a classic that feels classic, timeless, a pebble thrown into the pond and felt in books like Charlotte Sometimes; Tom's Midnight Garden; and the Green Knowe books. The reverberations, endless. Penelope is visiting family at Thackers; the year is 1934, and somehow - even the text lets it happen in a blink, a sentence - she becomes a traveller in time and part of the 16th century. She can move from one time to the next and back again; a ghost, a dreamer, and whilst in the past, she becomes part of something beyond her control. A plot to rescue Mary, Queen of Scots. It is the sort of deliciously big story that only children's literature of a certain time and place can do, and Uttley revels in it. Her language is complex, challenging, and big. So big. Everything about this story and its fantastical, grey, magic is so very big. And it is melancholic, as somebody on Twitter described it to me. It is full of a desperate ache for the inevitability of things; the world turns, people live, people die, and to be a brief part of that world is a painful, brutal gift. It is a gift that nobody would ever return; the preciousness of it. The perfection of it. But it is not easy and it is all the better for it. I have increasingly come to think that those authors who can do this understand the brutality of childhood. The raw truth of it. The way perfection and heartbreak can dance together, so close, so tightly wound. The way a day can be beautiful and then desperate, all at once. It is a book that will wait for you to be ready to find it. And once you are? It will give you everything.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    First published 1939. Good in the way that classic British children’s lit is good - almost recognizable, in that sense. I found this to be dreamy and hazy and beautifully written. It is also supremely unconcerned with plot and doesn’t bother explaining itself; Penelope travels back and forth with no explanation, no rhyme or reason, no internal logic; it’s just because the story, such as it is, thinks she needs to flit back and forth. And it’s that hazy dreaminess, that almost sleepy lack of urge First published 1939. Good in the way that classic British children’s lit is good - almost recognizable, in that sense. I found this to be dreamy and hazy and beautifully written. It is also supremely unconcerned with plot and doesn’t bother explaining itself; Penelope travels back and forth with no explanation, no rhyme or reason, no internal logic; it’s just because the story, such as it is, thinks she needs to flit back and forth. And it’s that hazy dreaminess, that almost sleepy lack of urgency, that prioritization of history and character above all else, including story, that allows the book to get away with this.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Belinda

    I enjoyed this book because it's well written, describes the beauty of a lost world (pre-Wars, horses, fires to warm rooms) and captures the life and morals of a family. I liked Penelope too, her Aunt and Uncle, and Francis Babington. There's real warmth in the relationships and a nostalgia for the past and the rapidly changing present. I grew almost wistful for the world of Thackers myself, it seemed so ideal. SPOILER But underneath it all there is the darkness of a cruel history (although inaccu I enjoyed this book because it's well written, describes the beauty of a lost world (pre-Wars, horses, fires to warm rooms) and captures the life and morals of a family. I liked Penelope too, her Aunt and Uncle, and Francis Babington. There's real warmth in the relationships and a nostalgia for the past and the rapidly changing present. I grew almost wistful for the world of Thackers myself, it seemed so ideal. SPOILER But underneath it all there is the darkness of a cruel history (although inaccurately chronicled in Traveller in Time), the threat of loss, and the wish to be in two worlds at once that suggests that Penelope is struggling with her change from child to adult and her discomfort with entering the reality of the world her parents inhabit. My only bugbear was the romanticisation of Anthony Babington. I read more about him after I'd finished the book and he was no innocent man, plotting to kill Queen Elizabeth and put Mary on the throne. He reads as vain and self serving and certainly appears to have acted in such a foolhardy manner that he ended up causing Mary's death. I would have liked to have had this explored a little more. Still, this is a pioneering fantasy young adult/childrens novel and deserves its place as a classic.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Newton

    One of the best time travel fantasies ever - beautifully written, soft yet exact, with a feeling for the English countryside that made me think of the young D.H. Lawrence.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    Alison Uttley is well known for her children’s stories such as those featuring the Little Grey Rabbit and Sam the Pig. She also wrote books for older readers and one of the finest is the wonderful YA novel, "A Traveller In Time". The book uses the device of “time slip”--which is the fantasy equivalent of the time travel devices used in science-fiction. Time slips involve some transferral of consciousness to a different time period. Some other examples are "Portrait of Jennie" {both the wonderful Alison Uttley is well known for her children’s stories such as those featuring the Little Grey Rabbit and Sam the Pig. She also wrote books for older readers and one of the finest is the wonderful YA novel, "A Traveller In Time". The book uses the device of “time slip”--which is the fantasy equivalent of the time travel devices used in science-fiction. Time slips involve some transferral of consciousness to a different time period. Some other examples are "Portrait of Jennie" {both the wonderful film and the equally wonderful novel by Robert Nathan} and "Time and Again" by Jack Finney. What happens to the physical body during a time slip? In Uttley’s book Penelope has a physical existence in the 16th century and while she is there, time apparently stops in the 20th century. However, it seems in one important section, things that happen to her in one time zone apparently can have physical effects on her in the other. The time slips themselves are beautifully presented with excellent linkages between the two ages. As for the problem of time-paradox, in my opinion, the author adroitly avoids the problem. I will not say how but leave the reader to discover how it is done. Uttley came from the area where all the historical events take place and she has a remarkable precision and selection of detail which makes the world of this novel stand out with wonderful clarity. The characters are superbly created. They have a vivid reality and one will not forget Aunt Tissy {nor her 16th century counterpart}, Uncle Barnabas her sister Allison and the host of other characters in the two time periods. Above all, Penelope Taberner is a delightful, sensitive heroine. Over the two year period of the novel she matures and strengthens. She has the ability of “second sight” which, in her case, allows the time slips to occur. The transfers have a dreamlike quality and Uttley had a fascination with dreams and visions which she outlines herself in the Forward of the novel. “Many of the incidents in this story are based on my dreams, for in sleep I went through secret hidden doorways in the house wall and found myself in another century. Four times I stepped through the door and wandered in rooms which had no existence, a dream within a dream, and I talked with people who lived alongside but out of time, moving through a life parallel to my own existence. In my dreams past and present were co-existent, and I lived in the past with a knowledge of the future. I travelled into that secondary dream-world, seeing all things as if brightly illuminated walking in fields and woods dazzling in their clarity of atmosphere.I sat on the stone walls in the sunshine of other times, conscious of the difference, knowing intermediate events. The painted room, the vision through the windows of the house, and many another incident came to me in dreams, and I have woven them into this story.” The ending is “inevitable” as one reviewer has said. It is also utterly beautiful.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Pam Knox

    Lovely writing. I felt like I was there, both in early 20th century England and In 16th century England. Also fun to look at pictures of the actual house Dethick Manor in Derbyshire, which is now a B&B. I wish I had read this years ago. I don't know how I missed it growing up. Just came across the word Dumbledores "Dumbledores boomed as they struck our dresses..." Old English for bumblebees. Lovely writing. I felt like I was there, both in early 20th century England and In 16th century England. Also fun to look at pictures of the actual house Dethick Manor in Derbyshire, which is now a B&B. I wish I had read this years ago. I don't know how I missed it growing up. Just came across the word Dumbledores "Dumbledores boomed as they struck our dresses..." Old English for bumblebees.

  20. 4 out of 5

    CLM

    A must read for anyone who loves history and time travel and Mary Queen of Scots!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Big Toe Books from BBC Radio 7. The plot seems to be interesting. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00xlw17 Big Toe Books from BBC Radio 7. The plot seems to be interesting. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00xlw17

  22. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I learned about this book from an interview with Ian Mortimer, author of "The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England," a history book that takes the novel approach of presenting itself as a guide of useful practical information you'll need to fit in in medieval England. I'd never heard of this book before and apparently it only had a limited U.S. release on its publication in 1939. Too bad, because this fits solidly within the Chronicles of Narnia magic-and-boarding-school-England genre and I I learned about this book from an interview with Ian Mortimer, author of "The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England," a history book that takes the novel approach of presenting itself as a guide of useful practical information you'll need to fit in in medieval England. I'd never heard of this book before and apparently it only had a limited U.S. release on its publication in 1939. Too bad, because this fits solidly within the Chronicles of Narnia magic-and-boarding-school-England genre and I would have read the covers off of it as a kid! As an adult reading it for the first time, I was a more critical audience, noting inconsistencies in the rules of its world and Penelope's never-explained ability to travel through time -- but only to one specific Elizabethan period, in chronological, linear visits. The ending left me unsatisfied, since it didn't really explain the how, what, or why of the heroine's time-skipping adventures. The most intriguing plot point -- a hint that present-day Penelope may be the reincarnation of her own great-great-grandmother, and lived other lives all over the Taberner family tree -- is left sadly undeveloped. However, the rural English setting, both present-day and past, is almost unbearably cozy and charming, and sure to delight any city reader who occasionally fantasizes about keeping chickens, churning butter, or baking in a wood-fire oven (guilty). Uttley's writing is evocative and richly detailed, and I'm trusting Ian Mortimer when he vouches for the top-notch authenticity of her research. If you know a young reader who is just getting into classic children's lit, hunt down a copy of this book - you might just make a history lover out of them!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bex

    I was given this book for Christmas but I'd never heard of it before. It was a nice surprise to find it a really good read. A young girl, Penelope, visits her aunt and uncle's house and finds herself transported to Elizabethan times and embroled in the plot to free Mary Queen of Scots, who is imprisoned in a house nearby. Only in the present is Penelope aware of the tradgedy which lies ahead, drawing closer whenever she travels back in time. As a backdrop to the unfolding drama is the slow country I was given this book for Christmas but I'd never heard of it before. It was a nice surprise to find it a really good read. A young girl, Penelope, visits her aunt and uncle's house and finds herself transported to Elizabethan times and embroled in the plot to free Mary Queen of Scots, who is imprisoned in a house nearby. Only in the present is Penelope aware of the tradgedy which lies ahead, drawing closer whenever she travels back in time. As a backdrop to the unfolding drama is the slow country life of twentieth-century Derbyshire, vividly and beautifully described. I'll be keeping this on my shelf next to the classics.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Melody

    I wish I'd read this when I was 12, it would have been one of my favorite books ever. As it is, I'm glad to have read it at this late date. Sweet little British story of a girl with the second sight, an enchanted house, and the doomed Mary, Queen of Scots.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Judith

    Am enjoying this - took it to Dublin with me as it's rather lighter than the Ken Follett - lol! Now I've finished it - well worth reading - well written & good plot, despite knowing what's going to happen - a beautiful book..... Am enjoying this - took it to Dublin with me as it's rather lighter than the Ken Follett - lol! Now I've finished it - well worth reading - well written & good plot, despite knowing what's going to happen - a beautiful book.....

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tracey the Bookworm

    The story is based on Mary Queen of Scots and the Babington plot to help her escape from captivity under the rule of Elizabeth I. The author's strengths lay in her descriptive powers of nature and the seasons, as well as her descriptions of the life and joys of people at this time, before industrialization. The time travel angle didn't work as well as in some books I have read and felt that the time traveller, Penelope Taberner, repeatedly appearing in the 16th century and then disappearing back The story is based on Mary Queen of Scots and the Babington plot to help her escape from captivity under the rule of Elizabeth I. The author's strengths lay in her descriptive powers of nature and the seasons, as well as her descriptions of the life and joys of people at this time, before industrialization. The time travel angle didn't work as well as in some books I have read and felt that the time traveller, Penelope Taberner, repeatedly appearing in the 16th century and then disappearing back to her own time, was a little clumsy at first, but it became more natural. I think the idea was that events that happened in the same space co-existed in different times and those who, for whatever reason, are sensitive to this are able to see events from others times and even be seen and engage with those of that time. It was a well written historical work with good characters. I especially loved Aunt Tissie/Cecily and Uncle Barnabus, as well as Thackers, the farmhouse where the story was set in both time periods I was born and grew up near the city of Sheffield. Sheffield castle is where Mary Queen of Scots was held a prisoner for about 14 years. This castle was the biggest in England at the time but was demolished at the time of the civil war. Horrible ugly buildings took its place but happily, they are now excavating this historic site. http://friendsofsheffieldcastle.org.uk/ https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-s...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amber Scaife

    Penelope visits her aunt and uncle at Thackers Manor and finds herself stepping back and forth in time, visiting relatives and residents of the place from three hundred years before, and taking part in helping Mary Queen of Scots try to escape her imprisonment. A Narnia-style story with a history lesson and a hint of romance, too. I would have absolutely loved this one when I was a kid, and I still enjoyed it quite a bit now.

  28. 5 out of 5

    HoneyAhmad

    Oh I absolutely loved this book! So glad I finally took it down and read it. It’s just so descriptive and moves in a pace that so many books today don’t do anymore- all in a hurry to capture attention. Really makes you wistful for a bygone era where you go to the country and take the time to just enjoy the little things. Best.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jo Case

    This is up there with Playing Beatie Bow when it comes to YA time travel (or 'time slip') novels. I borrowed it from the library over and over as a kid. Gorgeous and compelling. I was briefly obsessed with Mary Queen of Scots after reading it for the first time.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mairi

    If I could I would give this book 10 stars! It’s been a long time since I’ve read anything so achingly lovely and perfect. Alison Uttley creates a perfect picture of time-travel. A lovely, lovely novel!

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