Saturday, June 9, 2012


Intermediate fiction
I am a big time fan of time travel novels and highly familiar
with the genre. It takes a lot to impress me. Kate Saunders'
beswitched has that in spades.
Flora (12) is furious with her parents. Her grandmother has
broken her hip. Because their home has to be renovated to meet her
needs and the parents must travel to Italy to sell her home and
furniture, Flora is being sent to a boarding school and away from all
her friends.
True, it's a posh school with a swimming pool and horses.
Flora, however, feels that if her mom and dad really cared about her
they could make other arrangements (i.e., nursing home for
grandmother) and not tear her world apart. It isn't as if her father
even likes his mother, who ran off with a famous artist when he was a
child, all that much.
On the train trip to school Flora encounters an interesting
detour. She falls asleep, dreams about three white clad figures
performing a candle lit ceremony, and wakes up in 1935, clad in
hideous clothes and headed toward a very different boarding school as
the daughter of missionaries in India. Her headmistress won't believe
her time travel story. Worse, she finds that the other Flora's
memories have begun to invade her mind.
When Flora meets her roommates she learns how she was kidnapped
from the 21st century. Wanting to do something special their first
night back at school, they had tried a summoning spell they'd
discovered previously in a book they'd found in a secret room of the
dorm attic: a spell to summon a helpful demon from the future to
bless a life. Of course they never dreamed the spell would work. So
they have no clue how to set things right.
Until Flora is sent back to her own century she must behave in a
way that will not cause trouble. If she's expelled and sent "back" to
India, she'll be stuck in a time before her own parents were born.
The other Flora's memories keep crowding hers out. She's become the
target of the number one school bully. There is even trouble with her
roommates who are, after all, responsible for her predicament.
As time goes on Flora begins to fit in, starting to like parts
of the past and becoming friends with classmates. Still she has a
deep longing to return to her own time and family. If you want to
find out if this happens...
...well read the book!
The plot is captivating. The characters are believable and, for
the most part, endearing. The time travel element is plausible and
historic details are authentic. What makes the story even more
compelling is Flora's unique chance to get to know a younger version
of a previously loathed and dreaded ancestor.
On a personal note: my grandmother was one of five sisters. The only
one I spend much time with seemed scary. And the pictures, even of
them as children, looked stiff and formal. My mother tried to make
them come alive as people. But it took an experience in the home they
grew up in to break the ice. My newly engaged grandmother had used
her ring to etch her name in window glass. I saw a young woman with
hopes and dreams. That was just the beginning...
A great big shout out goes out my older daughter, Amber, self taught
geneologist extraordinaire, who is a tireless sleuth of information on
both sides of her ancestry. Her family tree website is something
else. My
Mother must be smiling up there in heaven to see that someone in that
generation has taken up this cause so dear to her heart!
Julia Emily Hathaway

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