Changing Times, by Tim Kennemore, for Timeslip Tuesday

Changing Times, by Tim Kennemore (1984, YA, 144 pages, but the type was smaller and denser back then). It isn't much of an autobiographical link, but Kennemore doesn't seem to have her own website, or wikipedia entry. And vexingly, I wasn't able to find a picture online--I'll have to scan the cover at some point.

It is Victoria's fifteenth birthday, and her parents have bestowed lavish presents upon her. Presents that she barely acknowledges--why give them any emotional response, when they have neglected her emotionally for years? Caught up in their own bitter relationship, and in their obsessive bridge playing, neither has any time or real interest in their daughter. One present she does appreciate is the chance to pick anything she wants from her uncle's antique store. And the thing that appeals most is a strange and seemingly non-functional clock....

Turns out the clock can take its owner back, or forward, to any part of their life. Victoria is about to find out what happened in her childhood that made her parents the miserable people they became...and she'll find out what might happen to herself and her boyfriend, Daniel, as well.

Victoria's travels through her own life form the bulk of the book, as she relives days from her past--days that flit away again, once she sleeps, so that there are no consequences. Unfortunately, there wasn't as much depth to Victoria's journey as I had hoped for, in large part because Victoria is a prickly character. She's been warped, rather, by her unloving parents, and in consequence has become unlovably cold and distant. Although she learns about her life in a rational way, she doesn't grow that much emotionally, and so the book, while interesting and well-written (nice and crisp prose-wise, although a tad archaic--I haven't come across "clad" for years), isn't one I took to my heart.

Changing Times is a British book, and I've found the same very smart but emotionally distant feel to quite a few of the (admittedly small number) of 1960s to 1980s UK YA books that I've read. And it's a funny thing in general, reading a YA book from way back in the early eighties. The marital relationships of the various grown-ups seem dated in their somewhat sordid unhappiness, or, in the case of Daniel's parents, old-fashioned ideas about the woman's role in the family. It's strange, too, to read a YA book in which girl friend and boy friend don't even kiss (although partly this is because Daniel has been so warped by his domineering father).

However, at the time of its publication it was lavished with praise--- "Quite extraordinary skill and originality," said the Guardian. "A powerful exposition of family relationships marred and scarred," The Junior Bookshelf opined. "A distinctive sharp witty style...refreshing and exhilarating," commented British Book News.

So maybe it's just me. And indeed, this one might well appeal to fans of Honor Arundal and Jane Gardam (two other UK authors writing YA in the 196os and 1970s), although it doesn't come close to the utter brilliance of Gardam's Bilgewater. In looking up these three authors just now, I was rather interested to see that although Jane Gardam began writing books for adults, Tim Kennemore moved from this type of somewhat acerbic YA drama to lighter stories for younger children (like Circle of Doom, from 2006, which sounds like a lovely fun book).

Timeslip-wise--the clock is never explained, the consequences of time travel negligible (except for the effect on Victoria's understanding of her life). It's much more a family dynamics/growing up story than an adventure through time.


  1. Circle of Doom *is* a lot of fun. Well worth reading.

  2. I remember laughing uncontrollably when I read Circle of Doom a few years ago. Hilarious!

  3. I read this book when I was a teenager and absolutely loved it although I remember wishing it had been longer with Victoria experiencing more time travel. I cannot seem to find much about the author unfortunately.

  4. Thanks for stopping by, Yvette! I've read two of Kennemore's other books--Fortunate Few, a very grim book about the lives of young girl gymnasts, and Wall of Words, an excellent book about a girl with dyslexia. But I this one is my favorite!

    She's written a number of other books, with are up on Goodreads.


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