Between Narnia, Bloody Jack, Doctor Who and Agatha Christie, I seem to listen to a lot of audiobooks with British narrators. This is not a problem! The trend continued, more or less by accident, when I pulled A Twist in Time by Jean Ure off the shelf at the library.
Cosy (Cosima) has her life turn upside down when her emotionally fragile mother has to go into hospital, and Cosy is sent to a foster family. Quiet, introspective Cosy finds herself overwhelmed by the new house and new family, especially the boisterous girls Jade and Gemma. A new school and challenges with maths [sic] doesn’t help. Her one consolation is when she begins seeing a “ghost girl” in her room; Kathleen had the same room in the 1940s and, by reading her journal, Cosy realizes that Kathleen is seeing a “ghosty-person” too.
With lots of British slang or wording (like “maths” and “hospital” without “the” before it) this has a very strong British atmosphere that, for me, helped bring Cosy’s world to life. I expected the book to focus mostly on the ghost girl element, so I was surprised by how much it focused on Cosy’s present-day situation–but that was vivid and meaningful so even though it might not have drawn me to pick up the book to begin with, it ended up being a powerfully engaging story.
I always enjoy stories about shy heroines who have to find their courage, and Cosy is an excellent character of that type. She has particular nuances and complexities through her relationship with her mother, and her conflict between wanting to fit in with wild Jade and Gemma, and wanting to do well at school to keep her scholarship. Cosy struggles with her identity and her relationships, a story told in a very moving way. The situation with her mother is also delicately handled, revealing details slowly at the beginning of the book, and finally exploring more of that relationship through a fictional story Cosy writes.
The ghost girl has her own story, which we catch glimpses of. Even though she wasn’t as prominent an element as I expected, she added some interest to the story as well. There are also some subtle indications that seeing the ghost girl is doing more for Cosy than it appears on the surface. The obvious surface help the ghost girl provides is to help Cosy with her maths–which is sending Cosy into fits of crying and frustration.
I do remember how life-and-death homework could feel at eleven years old (especially since Cosy worries about losing her scholarship) but at the same time it occasionally feels overdramatic. However, I’m inclined to believe that maths is not really maths, and Cosy’s tears, while set off by algebra, are more about her larger situation. From that perspective, the whole thing makes more emotional sense, and the ghost girl’s role has far more meaning.
I was impressed especially by the audiobook reading as well, done by Kim Hicks. Though everyone sounds British, Hicks gives different accents to different characters. It’s not taken to an exaggerated extreme, but Cosy (who’s teased about talking posh) does sound different than her working-class foster parents. In fact, Auntie sounds remarkably like Jackie from Doctor Who, which makes a good deal of sense!
If you enjoy a bit of British flavor, a shy heroine and just a little magic (or is it science fiction?) then I definitely recommend this story.
Author’s Site: http://www.jeanure.com
That was all! Anyone else?
Buy it here: A Twist In Time