Another of Penelope Lively's tasteful stories of possession -- of time travel which encourages the elision of past and present as well as comparison-contrasts of different civilizations. Clare Mayfield, fourteen, lives with her great-aunts in a gothic-Victorian house, itself a ""flight of fancy,"" in the Midlands. The aunts ""think backwards because that suits them best""; Clare must face the practical difficulties of the present (running a house where the ""Outgoings"" are ahead of the ""Assets"") until she discovers a ceremonial shield -- brought back from New Guinea by her anthropologist great-grandfather -- in the attic. It exerts its power, implemented by her reading and her new friend from Uganda; more and more she drifts toward that earlier past, finally taking the complete trip during a blackout after an accident. The story is certainly not the thing since it is both managed and muted, but all the characters are far more real than anything which takes place and Lively is an ingratiating, fastidious writer.