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on 2 December 2008
This is probably one of the first "time slip" books written for children and was itself first published nearly 70 years ago. It is the story of Penelope, a girl from the early 20th century with "too much imagination" who is sent to stay with her great-aunt in an ancient Derbyshire manor house. Penelope finds herself slipping back in time via doors in the house, to join the inhabitants of the 1580s, the time of Elizabeth 1st and Mary Queen of Scots.

"A Traveller in Time" is a wonderful, almost perfect book. There are the beautiful descriptions of the English countryside through all the seasons, so well-written that you can almost smell the hay or the honeysuckle. There are the well-drawn characters and authentic language of country folk across the centuries. There is the exciting and historically accurate plot: Penelope becomes involved with the Babington family - Anthony Babington was executed for treason and conspiracy against Queen Elizabeth. And there is the philosophical question of the nature of time itself.

All these elements are beautifully woven together in a satisfying book which stays with you long after you have finished it. Highly recommended to children from nine or ten upwards and to adults who welcome a change from today's bestseller list.
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on 4 February 2009
Whilst staying in an old Derbyshire farm a young girl is drawn into the past and becomes embrioled in the doomed plot to free Mary Queen of Scots.
A great classic along with books such as A Little White Horse (The Secrets of Moonacre) and A Secret Garden
I read this book as a child, re-read it as an adult and have had the joy of sharing it with my own chidren. It is a book that should be on every school and library shelf, in the posession of every KS2 teacher as it brings to life both history and imagination, superbly crafted and beautiful; it was the book that first fired my imagination as a child and is still a joy to read.
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on 4 January 2008
Did you ever stand in an ancient place almost hearing the voices of the past, did you ever long to be part of a magical adventure? 'A Traveller in Time' takes readers to the time of Mary Queen of Scots: beautiful language, evocative descriptions, magic, drama are all crafted in this wonderful tale.
I lost a treasured copy and searched for another only to find it out of print, well done Jane Nissen books for restoring a national treasure.
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on 27 October 2003
Reading this book, it is hard to believe that the author didn't personally travel back to the 16th century, her descriptions of life and conversations of the 16th century characters are so convincing. Penelope, staying with her great-aunt and uncle at Thackers Farm in Derbyshire, finds herself able to slip back and forth to the reign of Elizabeth I, when the Babbington family owned Thackers, and her own distant ancestor, Cicely Taberner, was their cook. Aunt Cicely and the other servants are particularly convincing as real peopel, their manners,language andattitudes seem totally authentic, more so than the slightly romatncised upper-class Babbingtons. Penelope becomes involved in the doomed plot to save Mary Queen of Scots from nearby Wingfield Manor, even though she knows she cannot change history.
And she falls hopelessly in love with Francis Babbington, although there is no future in it. Apparently Alison uttley was planning to write a sequel to this lovely book, it is fascinating but frustrating to speculate what it might have been like.
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on 15 May 2003
Alison Uttley is a quiet writer, unpretentious and understated. I adore A Traveller in Time which tells a wistful and enchanting tale using the tried and tested device of a child slipping accidentally into another time. It brings to life the period of history when Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned by Elizabeth and when plots were rife as well as recounting the way history is woven into the very fabric of a place. Truly lovely.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 10 September 2012
I didn't know about this story as a child, so I'm coming to it as an adult reader.

It was published in the 1930s, and the author, Alison Uttley, was a trained physicist who was deeply interested in theories of time travel and thought it actually existed. She handles the time-slip side in a very interesting way, almost like Penelope (the "modern" character) is haunting the past like a future ghost, but still able to be seen and touched by the past-life characters.

Penelope is a child in the early part of the twentieth century who is originally from Chelsea, London, but is sent with her brother and sister to the countryside of Derbyshire to improve her health. Her family have lived in an old manor house called Thackers for centuries, originally as servants to the aristocrats who once lived there. Penelope starts sliding back and forth between the twentieth century and the late sixteenth century. She discovers the lord then is Anthony Babington, a young golden-haired nobleman who in a modern film version would have to be played by Orlando Bloom, and he has several other relatives including Francis, who would have to be played by Orlando Bloom's fourteen-year-old brother.

The novel goes over two years, so Penelope grows up into a young teenager and starts having feelings for Francis, while the world has a crush on Anthony, and he has a crush on the beautiful Mary Queen of Scots, who is a prisoner in a nearby castle. When she is moved to the manor house down the road, Anthony gets quite excited and creates a plan to rescue her. Penelope, who knows what is going to happen from history lessons at school (the Babington Plot is a real historical event) can't tell him what she knows.

It has one of the most poignant endings of any novel I've ever read. I'm actually going to miss those characters.

For a 21st-century child, I would put the reading age at 11+ years, as it is very richly written with lots of description of the countryside and the Edwardian and Elizabethan worlds that Penelope inhabits.

But I don't think it is just a children's book. It can be read on a very adult level as well. Maybe there should be two editions with different covers for the two audiences, like they did with the "Harry Potter" series.
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on 21 January 2002
Like all the other reviewers, I have loved this book since childhood - but it is much too good just to be left to children!! It really can be read by any age group; all that is needed is an appreciation of beautiful writing, a love of history and the ability to lose yourself in atmosphere. Oh, and by the way, all the places in the book are real places in Derbyshire and can be visited; you just have to know how to find them.
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VINE VOICEon 3 July 2008
I absolutely adored this book as a child and still do! My original copy has fallen apart through being over loved, hence the reason for purchasing a new copy. I was delighted to find it here!

This story is truly wonderful - and the fact that it is based on real historical events only makes it more magical and makes Mary, Queen of Scots seem more like a real person than a tragic name from history who fell foul of her cousin Elizabeth I.

I love the whole insight into Elizabethan life, and the little links which still exist from the past which Penelope recognises as from that 'other' time.

Ladies, I defy you to not fall just a little bit in love with Francis or Anthony, depending on your age, and with the whole romance and history of Thackers. I can't wait for it to arrive so I can fall in love all over again.

Read it, I implore you!

Update: I read it again and it is just as good from an adult perspective. Superb book and I can't recommend it enough.
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on 30 March 2003
I read this book back in the 1970s having heard it serialised on Woman's Hour when my children were young. It is a fantastic book which my four children read later on and my son - born in 1992 - read also. I can't wait to give a copy to my granddaughter, who is nearly 8, soon (the others are too young - yet). My copy is now very crispy on the spine so I will have to order a new one because it won't last another 25 years!!
It has to be read.
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on 27 April 2009
I read this book as a child and it made a lasting impression on me. I decided to re-read it as an adult and I'm so glad that I did. It's a fantastic story, and written in a style that isn't focused solely at children. Some of the themes and undertones are quite adult and I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. If you've never read this book, or you have children then I highly recommend buying this novel.
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