THIMBLES by David Wiseman


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After Jeremy Visick (1981), a disappointment--though there's an ingenious time-trip at the heart of it. First, we hear about the Peterloo massacre of voting-rights demonstrators on August 16, 1819. Then we meet present-day Cathy Aitken, querulous, unsupportive daughter of a discharged union ""troublemaker""--whose twelfth birthday is only a few days away, on August 16. Cathy resents being sent off to her grandparents' in Cornwall; but, once there, she becomes engrossed, with Gran, in the things left by recently deceased, 98-year-old Aunt Maisie. . . especially a gold thimble and one of ""base metal,"" a fine-stitched sampler and a red velvet cap with the embroidered letters ""LI. . ."" still discernible. And since Cathy immediately has forebodings, and is soon hearing snatches of strange talk whenever she holds one of the items, the dullest reader can see what's (very slowly) coming: on the day of the Peterloo massacre, she will be two girls whose birthday it also is--one a rich onlooker (the girl of the gold thimble, of course), the other a poor demonstrator (whose cap originally bore the word ""LIBERTAS""). One can anticipate, also, that Cathy will now have some understanding of her father's fight for his rights--but that's secondary, as it turns out, to her uncanny-seeming knowledge of the unfinished date on the sampler and the missing letters on the cap. The cleverness of the construct is overborne, however, by the patent schematization--along with characters who have no personality and talk that has no life.

Pub Date: April 26th, 1982
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin