Published: October 1st, 2011
Time At The Top & All In Good Time: Two Novels
By: Edward Ormondroyd
Purple House Press
"Wait a minute!" Mr Shaw said. "You want to take me back to the nineteenth century, to marry someone there?"
His daughter Susan must be mad! Only a girl suffering from hallucinations would make a request like that, on top of a wild story about a good witch, an elevator that travels to 1881, a vanquished scoundrel, a dug-up treasure, and a distressed nineteenth-century family named Walker. Better humor her, Mr. Shaw thinks, until I can get her to a doctor.
Susan is not mad. Her story is true. She and her new best friend Victoria Walker just know that when their parents meet it will be love at first sight, and the two families will become one.
But nothing happens the way it should. Their parents meet and don't fall in love. Domineering Cousin Jane forbids more meetings. The treasure disappears overnight. The vanquished scoundrel returns, with sinister plans. Everything is spinning out of control!
So why does an old photo show that Susan and Victoria's dream comes true?
So, I never read either Time At The Top or its sequel when I was a child, but I had seen the movie that was based on the first book and absolutely loved it beyond measure! I think it probably contributed to my complete obesession with time travel that I still have, even midway through my twenties. The story is all about Susan Shaw, a preteen who is having a horrible time of things. Her Mother has recently died, her Father is always working and at school she's been passed over as the lead in the play, so others can have a "fair chance." Susan is just utterly grumpy about things in general, yet she still stops to help a strange old lady pick up her spilled groceries from the street. The old woman promises her "three" and Susan doesn't know what she could possibly mean. It doesn't mean three wishes, but three trips to 1881 (there and back) in the old elevator in her apartment building! While she's there, she becomes good friends with Victoria Walker whose Mother is being taken in by a fortune-hunter. So Susan helps Victoria get rid of him by making him think they have no money - only for the girls to find out it's suddenly true! Can Victoria, Susan and Vic's brother Robert find a way to save the Walker family. And will Susan find a way to stay in 1881, with her Father, and join the Walker family with her own? Add in a buried treasure and some very interesting things will be happening!
I really loved the story in this one and how it focused on Susan for a decent portion in the beginning, mainly for the chance to show the readers why she would want to live in the past. Considering this book was written in the 1960s, it really wasn't a gigantic time gap when you think about it. The most hilarious character in her time period is the housekeeper Mrs. Clutchett who is completely paranoid and extremely nosy! Her commentary on Susan's disappearance is priceless. Only eighty years or so between Susan and the Walkers. I thought that the way Susan got rid of the fortune-hunter was slightly ridiculous and over the top, but it was also pretty amusing. The whole scenario with the buried treasure definitely appealed to my inner youth. Such a fun plot to unravel along with the children (even if it wasn't difficult at all to figure things out). But my favorite thing about this book was the way the author, Edward Ormondroyd, inserted himself into the narrative as the Shaw's neighbor in their apartment building. He barely interacts with Susan except for one notable time before she disappears. But he desperately wants to know where she's gotten to, almost as much as her Father and the police do!
The sequel, All In Good Time, is just as much fun with Susan finally taking her Father back to 1881 with her. But nothing goes according to plan. The Walker childrens' Mother is wary of accepting anonymous money (i.e. the treasure the children found and sent secretly to her), and therefore is still planning to sell the house. Her horrible Cousin Jane comes to help manage the household, and terrorizes everyone in it. She interferes with Mr. Shaw and Mrs. Walker's first meeting, disapproves of Susan who she sees as trashy, and does everything possible to prevent Victoria and Robert from seeing her. And when the evil fortune-hunter Mr. Sweeney comes back once more, it's up to Susan and Mr. Shaw to find a way to save the Walkers from disaster - especially when the fortune disappears! Overall, I highly enjoyed both of these books. They flowed together beautifully and it felt a lot like one continuous novel. Also, the adventure was fun even as a disbelieving adult. I think that I would have absolutely adored this beyond belief if I had read it between the ages of eight and twelve. As it is, I highly enjoyed it and will probably re-read it sometime. That is a distinction not many kid's books I've read as an adult can boast of! :D
VERDICT: 4.5/5 Stars
**No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**