Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"The train journey was horrible."

A Tale of Time City is a Diana Wynne Jones novel that I picked up completely on a whim.  I found it used on Powell's and bought it even though I hadn't heard of it before.  (It's yet another one that is sadly out of print right now.)  I've had it on my stacks for a couple of months and this was the perfect opportunity to pull it out.  I'm also going to be pairing it with a re-read next week (or so) of A Tale of Two Cities for the Take Another Chance Challenge.

This one is obviously a time travel story.  Time City is a patch of time/space that exists outside of our timeline.  The inhabitants monitor time and are able to travel to any point in the tens of thousands of years of human history.  There are patches of time that are more stable than others and some that are actually quite unstable.  Vivian Smith is a child who is being sent to an aunt in 1939 England due to the war.  Jonathan is a boy from Time City who has overheard an official conversation about time instability and thinks that the solution is to travel in time and kidnap Vivian.  So what is really happening in time and are these kids the ones to save the world and Time City?

There was a lot of bizarre terminology in this book and the situations were quite complex but if you are able to get through that sort of thing, this was a great story.  Vivian, Jonathan and Sam (Jonathan's cousin) are really well-formed characters and they were fun companions.  Time City was an amazing place and I think this would make a fantastic movie.

Keeping my feet on the ground,

Find a used copy of this book or borrow it from your local library.  We bought a used copy from Powell's.


  1. Goody, a positive review of Tale of Time City! You are making me want to read it again, even though I only last week started it and got bored and gave up. I do remember I liked the machines that could give you any kind of food. That would be brilliant, and then I wouldn't have to pine for Cornish pasties when I am in Louisiana or jambalaya when I am in London. :p

  2. This sounds a little confusing to me ... but time travel concepts tend to do that to me.

  3. When my cousin was a kid she actually sent DWJ a letter with a diagram of how she'd pictured space/time system in this book, asking if she'd got it right, and Dianna Wynne Jones wrote back to her and said that the diagram was pretty much correct, only everything was mirror image. My cousin is left handed, so we figured that explained it. I wonder if she still has that letter?

  4. Jenny - I hope you try it again! The machines were cool. I'm not sure what I would get though ... probably just a million ice creams!

    Jenners - It wasn't too bad but I bet it would make a lot more sense on a re-read.

    Villa - Awesome story! I'm left-handed too so I wonder if I pictured it the right way. ;)