A Christmas in Time

Sally Nicholls

Published by Nosy Crow – 1st October 2020

One magic mirror, two curious children falling through time into adventure.

Great Ceasar! Christmas simply is the jolliest time of year! Holly, Ivy, ice-skating… candles & carols… hold onto your hat-pins, buckle up those bustles & tighten those tweed knickerbockers for some rip-roaring Victorian Christmas capers. Look here old chap! I’ll wager you a plum pudding that you won’t be able to resist these fun, festive frolics.

This is the second book in the ‘In Time’ series with ‘A Chase in Time’ being the first installment. If you haven’t read the first book, you are brought quickly up to speed about the magical mirror in Aunt Joanna’s house that allows the children to travel back in time. No time (excuse the pun!) Is wasted & you are swiftly pulled into the adventure within the first few pages.

Alex & Ruby Pilgrim have come to spend Christmas at their Aunt Joanna’s bed & breakfast. The imposing Applecott House has been in the Pilgrim family for over 200 years & Alex & Ruby’s grandparents, great parents & other distant relatives (some of whom they met on the previous adventure) lived there.

Whilst trimming up the house for the seasonal guests, Alex & Ruby glance the reflection of a woman in a shawl & big, old-fashioned skirts in the magical mirror.  All of a sudden, the woman reaches forwards and pulls the children through the looking glass & into a glorious Victorian Christmas.

It’s the day before Christmas Eve 1872 & Marian Pilgrim welcomes Alex & Ruby into to her chaotic, rough & ready family. They soon befriend her brood: Harold, Wallace, Aquilla, Noel & dog Bunyan.

Poor lttle wretch cousin Edith has also come to stay, but only until Boxing Day, before Uncle Elijah ships her off to Scotsborough, a cruel boarding school where children are said to be more likely to graduate by the grave than the front door.

Can the children show Uncle Elijah the magic of Christmas & persuade him to change his mind?

I say! I thoroughly enjoyed the Victorian colloquial language throughout, especially the insults! I’m sure the calls of ‘you goat’ & ‘you goose’ will amuse & delight the children of today as much as they did me.

For children studying the Victorian era, there’s plenty of Victorian details in the book to bring this period in history to life. Alongside Alex & Ruby, we experience the food (not sure about the kedgeree & kippers!) The clothes, the cold & of course…the toilets!

But at the centre of the Victorian seasonal shenannegins is a heartwarming story of the innocence of childhood. The lengths the children go to, in order to save poor little cousin Edith from being banished to boarding school & bring joy to their grieving Uncle Elijah’s heart make this a festive feel-good read all round.

I can’t wait to travel back in time for another adventure with Alex & Ruby, so I’m very much looking forward to ‘An Escape in Time’ & ‘A Secret in Time.’

Thank you to Nosy Crow for sending me a review copy of the book.

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