by Philippa Pearce
I really enjoyed this story. Tom is sent to spend the summer with his aunt and uncle when his brother has the measles. His aunt and uncle live in a small flat, part of a larger house. There is very little to entertain Tom- the small walled yard has only dustbins and a parked car, and he can’t go out because he might be contagious. He thinks he’s going to die of boredom until he makes a wonderful discovery. When the grandfather clock downstairs chimes thirteen, the back door opens into a vast, manicured garden. Pretty soon Tom is sneaking out every night to explore the garden. He meets other children there, catches glimpses of the gardener and a few adult members of this other household. Only one little girl can see him, and they strike up a friendship. Eventually Tom puzzles out that the children in the garden are from the Victorian era, and also that time moves differently for them. His life becomes so enmeshed in the happenings of the garden that he never wants to leave it.
Funny, if you think about it this book is something of a mystery. Who are the other kids in the garden? where do they come from? why can’t they all see Tom? is he a ghost in their world- or are the Victorian children all ghosts themselves? It all comes together neatly in the end. I didn’t find it sad like some other readers, I rather liked the ending. Very well written, believable characters and lots of interesting stuff to think about time, aging, how relationships change… Definitely one I’d read again, or put into my kids’ hands.
Borrowed from the public library.
Rating: 4/5 229 pages, 1958