PENELOPE by Penelope Farmer


Age Range: 10 - 14
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 Farmer (Thicker than Water, 1993, etc.) produces a smoothly written family drama with supernatural elements that only partly mesh. Flora Penelope Worth has a loving family in her Aunt Jo and Uncle Frank, who adopted her after her feckless mom (Aunt Jo's best friend, married to Jo's ne'er-do-well brother) is killed in a traffic accident. Flora feels increasingly threatened, however, by fragmentary memories unrelated to her real life in modern, working- class London. They conjure up the days of a girl named Penelope, a painting, a Doctor Darwin (father of the evolutionist), and a life of prosperity in the late 18th century. The book is populated with beguiling good guys and homey details for both past and present locales. Against the warmth of Aunt Jo and the Indian family of Flora's best friend, Piloo, the bad guys--Flora's biological father and a gang of schoolgirls--seem one-dimensional. Their presence does little to advance the plot of this not-quite ghost story, not-quite reincarnation tale. In Farmer's capable hands, it's still a compelling read, even if all the parts don't hold together. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-689-80121-1
Page count: 184pp
Publisher: McElderry
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1996