Beswitched, by Kate Saunders (Marion Lloyd Books, 2010, middle grade, 288 pages), is a Must Read for anyone who, like me, loves British boarding school stories and time travel, in as much as it combines the two in an utterly delightful fashion.
Young Flora, a modern English girl, is determined to be unhappy at the boarding school to which she's being sent while her parents are abroad. But when she falls asleep on the train, and finds that she's off to boarding school in 1935 (!!!!) her horror is even greater. Her three new room-mates brought her back into the past through an experiment with magic, and now she stuck in a world of nasty baths, worse food, and an educational regime far removed from the relaxed, student-directed learning she'd been promised at her new school.
But Flora manages, with the help of her new friends, to become an Asset to the School, and to save someone's life from going badly wrong....
So much fun! It is just enjoyable as all get out to see a 1935 boarding school through modern eyes, especially since Kate Saunders did such a brilliant job bringing it to life! Lots of description, lots of fully three-dimensional characters, and some nasty Latin verbs...with the threat of WW II adding a darker note (faintly, but it's there). Not a book in which Lots Happens, being more character driven, although I did appreciate the classical boarding school trope of the School Girl in Peril making its appearance!*
Flora's struggles with an alien time and its alien culture are convincing, making this my favorite sort of time travel story--one in which the time travel is the main plot element, but one in which it's the effects of the time travel on the main character and those around her that are the central point.
In short, I thought it was great!
Beswitched has been out in the UK for a while, and is coming to the US this December from Delacorte.
*Viz school girls in peril-- I actually won a prize for a haiku on this theme (10 pounds!!!), which I shall share with you now:
Hanging from the cliff,
I wonder when a school girl
Will come rescue me.