Translated from the Swedish, this story of eerie time travelling in the house of a dying woman, inevitably recalls some English language classics: Coraline, perhaps, in its atmosphere; and Tom’s Midnight Garden in its theme. That the dying great aunt is called Henrietta, or Hetty as a child, may not be the author’s deliberate reference to Harriet and Hatty in Philippa Pearce’s classic, nevertheless, the theme of present day problems being addressed by a consciousness of the healing power of time is similar. The narrator, young Thomasina, is staying in Henrietta’s house with her father, her uncle and aunt, and her three cousins. All the adults and children are suffering from some sadness, bitterness or frustration in their lives expressed in their attitudes to one another and to Henrietta’s impending death, and family meals are full of tension. Gradually, each child is drawn back in time, through a wardrobe full of mirrors, to meet Henrietta as she grows up and to come to a greater understanding of themselves, and through their enlightenment and transformation, becoming more assertive or less self-regarding, to have a restorative effect on the adults too. If this makes the book sound rather Ingmar Bergman heavy, then it has to be said that there is plenty to hold young readers’ attention in the children themselves, their convincing interplay with the adults, and the general air of mystery. And, if the healing process by which the children are changed is unclear, the kind of everyday strains and disappointments with loved ones that beset the children and their parents initially will be familiar to many. For a story that balances reality and fantasy, I would have preferred illustrations that weren’t so consistently stylised as these by Moa Schulman, which seem to be taking place entirely in a world askew of our own.
http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png 0 0 Angie Hill http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png Angie Hill2013-09-01 01:00:332021-10-24 10:07:45A House Without Mirrors
Illustrator: Moa Schulman