A TIE TO THE PAST by David Wiseman


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From the author of the powerful time fantasy Jeremy Visick (1981), a carelessly constructed novel concerning a present-day English schoolgirl whose experiences parallel those of a suffragette who endured jail terms and hunger strikes and then took lifelong pride in her accomplishment. The ingredients here are promising: as a prank, Mary's troubled best friend, Julia, steals from old Mrs. Watson a casket containing her aunt Gladys' diaries and mementoes of her suffrage experiences; though meaning to return the casket, Mary becomes fascinated with the contents and delays as--over weeks--she reads the diary. Meanwhile, her conscience leads her to befriend Mrs. Watson, while her guilt over the theft and fascination with the past result in vivid dreams of Gladys' experiences; at the same time, events in the present--such as encounters with the policewoman investigating Mrs. Watson's loss--intensify Mary's reliving of Gladys' commitment and pain. Unfortunately, the telling here lacks logic and is drawn out and repetitious. Again and again, Mary finds time alone and then, implausibly, reads only a paragraph of the diary. Her parents know Mary is troubled and are concerned as she becomes ill and anorexic, but this is simply reiterated without development; and there is no particular reason for Mary to begin to eat again when she does. The promising subplot concerning Julia is not developed to reinforce the theme. Disappointing.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1989
Page count: 149pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin