I think this is one of those books that is a children’s classic in England but didn’t become as famous in the US, or else I just missed it as a kid. I picked it up on vacation in England recently along with two other children’s time travel novels, which seems to be a lively genre over there. A Traveller in Time is a book that’s very centered in one place, in this case the farm of Thackers. Uttley is wonderful at describing all the little details of the house, the fields, and the people that make up the farm and its community. The book follows Penelope, who is sent to stay with her great-aunt and uncle in order to recuperate from her recent illness in the fresh country air. Penelope ends up falling down the stairs and into the Elizabethan era past of the house, where she becomes involved in the plot to try to free Mary, Queen of Scots. I liked particularly that she just went with it and pretended to be someone of the correct time period, and I also liked that she could travel back and forth between the two periods and wasn’t stuck.
The time travel in this book is more dream-like and the concept of time all happening at once and overlaying itself was interesting to think about. Uttley also captures this particular place so realistically that it’s very alive when you read it. I don’t give it four stars because I felt like the ending was a little abrupt and I wanted to find out what happened even beyond that. I’ve read time travel books that I liked more, but this one was sweet, thoughtful, and sometimes scary, so it was a worthwhile read.