Fifteen small slices of English-history-in-a-microcosm--as Girling time-travels in the village of Ilsington, from the days of a prehistoric mammoth (story #1) to the post-World War I tale of a young baker (story #15). And, in between, Girling sets little Ilsington up as the main stage for all historical lights: Druids; the Roman conquest; the dawn of Celtic-Christian settlement; Danish depredations; medieval chivalry (knights in battle); the Plague; the craft-guilds and the surge of English church-building; the Puritan influence; the Civil War between roundheads and cavaliers; the coming of the Industrial Revolution. True, Ilsington accommodates it all. And Girling provides a very literary vignette for each period, richly vocabularized and woven stylistically tight. But these impressive, miniature tours-de-force depend upon the reader's fairly extensive knowledge of English history for coherence and effectiveness. Britain buffs, then, should be downright delighted--while most others may find themselves more than a little at sea.