I recently developed some pretty strong feelings for one 16th century English family- The Babingtons. Though, they lived centuries ago, I feel like I have known them personally; have spent time with them, chatted with them, strolled in lovely Elizabethan gardens with them, and lived in a cozy farm house with them. I feel like I know their deepest emotions, their virtues and vices, thoughts and habits, likes and dislikes. Don’t worry, I am not a time traveller who went back in time and made good acquaintance with the Babington family. No! No! But, someone else did- Penelope Taberner Cameron in A Traveller in Time and through her I was able to visit 16th century England and get to know the Babingtons.
Title: A Traveller in Time
Author: Alison Uttley
Publisher: Puffin Books
Publishing Date: July 2nd, 2015. First published in 1939.
Genres: Children’s Literature, Speculative Fiction
From Goodreads: 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.
Reading A Traveller in Time was quite an experience. Although, travelling between two drastically different time periods may sound like an adventure, I wouldn’t term this book as an adventure story. On the contrary, this is a story which deals with a much more delicate topic- sentiments. When you get to know someone personally n you like them, it changes the way you perceive them. It doesn’t matter anymore if they lived centuries ago or if they don’t exist in the present world. You form a bond with them which cannot be broken by time or space. That’s what we see in A Traveller in Time. Our main protagonist- Penelope- has the gift of time travelling and as she travels between 20th century England and England during the Elizabethan period, she gets to know the Babington family intimately and forms a deep bond with them. It is even more touching to see how Penelope falls in love with the youngest of the Babington family- Francis, who also reciprocates her love. But alas! They are separated in time.
Each character is fleshed out beautifully in this book. Except for Arabella, they are all likable. And even so more, I love the way they connect and interact with each other. How lovely are Aunt Tissie and Uncle Barnabas with the kids, and how pleasant did I find the affection of Dame Cicely and Tabitha. Of the Babingtons, Francis, I loved and Anthony, I liked, but, it was the latter for whom my heart wept the most. And most definitely, I can’t forget Mistress Babington’s sweetness, Mistress Foljambe’s warmth, and Mary Stuart’s plight. The characters of this book touched my heart to this extent that when I read about the actual Babington plot and how in real Anthony Babington was hanged, drawn, and quartered in 1586, I couldn’t help but feel very sorry for him, though, I didn’t know him. Such was the effect of the lively writing style of Alison Uttley who made me empathize with the characters.
The other brilliant aspect of this book is the way it is written- how very beautiful! Each sentence on every page of the book will captivate the hearts of readers with fabulous descriptions. Every description, from early 20th century London to Thackers farm in the 1920s and in 1580s is written with such beauty of imagination, that it made my heart flutter with delight. In A Traveller in Time Alison Uttley has given readers a treat of exquisite imagination, creativity, and artistic storytelling.
A Traveller in Time is a beautifully written story with a wonderful set of characters. The story ends on a wistful note and as I finished reading the final page of the book, I felt very wistful myself. This book would be greatly enjoyed by anyone, young or old, who love English countryside, love English history, and are willing to cross the ether of time with Penelope and bond with people who lived centuries ago.