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Tom's Midnight Garden: 11/25/08
English manor homes seem to inspire a certain kind of time travel story. They are usually dream like and include a friendship across the ages. The only caveat, the protagonist from the present is usually unable to alter past events. Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce fits perfectly in this category and it's one of my favorite examples.
Tom Long, the present day (that being probably the 1950s) protagonist is sent away to his aunt and uncle's flat while his brother recovers at home from the measles. The flat, of course, was once a manor house and has sometime in the last fifty years been dived up into apartments. The only clue to the house's history is an old grandfather clock that keeps perfect time but chimes at random.
The clock is also the key for Tom to travel back in time to the Victorian era where he meets a girl about his age named Hatty (Harriet) Melbourne. As the summer progresses, Hatty grows up. Tom's goal during his short stay with his aunt and uncle is to learn the secret of the clock and to find out what happened to his friend Hatty.
Tom's Midnight Garden is a short but extremely satisfying novel. It is tightly plotted and populated with interesting and believable characters. When the book ended I was both happy to have enjoyed the book and sad to say goodbye to Tom and Hatty. Of course, I was partial to Hatty, having a Harriet of my own. But even without that personal connection, I would have loved the novel.
If you like this sort of time travel story, you might also enjoy:
It's nice to know a little about this book. I've had it on my TBR list ever since I saw it mentioned in another book- Tam Lin- but never knew what it was about."
Comment #2: Thursday, December 4, 2008 at 11:41:00
Interesting. Was it the Yolen or the Dean book?