Take a mother who could give "Mommy Dearest" a run for her money, two daughters trying to survive and find happiness, and a boy from the future. Lavinia Clifford is a spiritualist, using her spirit guides to provide clients with solace and information from beyond the grave. Her children are a bothersome fact of life, punished for every infraction by being locked in the linen cupboard all day, or worse. But when the girls sneak out their mother's spirit board, they are amazed to connect with a boy living in their own house 100 hundred years in the future from them. Alec is dealing with his parents' divorce and the move to a new home and new school. Making friends, visiting with the counselor his mother wants him to see, and worrying about his mother's unhappiness are all hard to bear. So the conversations with the sisters from the past are as much a pleasure for him as they are for the girls. Can these friends separated by a century actually help each other?
The blend of historical fiction for the Clifford sisters with the current setting of Alec makes some fascinating contrasts. Wax cylinders for phonographs as compared to iPods, or black and white moving pictures compared to today's brilliantly colored films with lavish soundtracks make the difference between the two time periods very obvious. The details about seances, research into the spiritual realm, and the various tools used are also relics from that time and will seem very odd to modern readers.
The bittersweet (almost) certainty that they will never meet haunts us as we read about their growing friendship. How will it all turn out? Can there be a happy ending for all of them? You will have to find out for yourself.
I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.
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