Beswitched by Kate Saunders

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Beswitched by Kate Saunders

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Luci Davin
Reviewed by Luci Davin
Summary: A delightful girls' boarding school story with time travel and magic thrown in.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: February 2010
Publisher: Marion Lloyd Books
ISBN: 978-1407108971

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Flora is furious at being sent away to boarding school, even one which is very progressive with luxurious facilities and school rock bands. Her parents need to sell her grandmother's house in Italy and build a granny flat at home, and Flora is resentful at having her life turned upside down for a grumpy, unpleasant old woman. On the train, she falls asleep and wakes up to find herself in another era. Trendy 21st century Flora is horrified to find herself in a hideous pinafore dress with a childish haircut and no makeup. What has happened to her iPod, mobile phone and brand new laptop?

Flora has a lot to learn at St Winifred's in 1935, where she is soon installed in a room shared with three other girls. Her classmates and teachers are puzzled and sometimes quite shocked by the things she says and her language, and she has to adapt to a completely different syllabus. She is helped in this by making good friends with her new roommates, who can tell her how she got there but not how to get back – they were experimenting with spells.

Beswitched is a lovely, affectionate homage to stories about girls' boarding schools. It is about friendship, about quarrels and making up, and about resolving conflict, the classic material of such stories. One of Flora's new friends, Pete, is very lively and fun so long as she gets her way, but quite scary when Flora gets on the wrong side of her.

Flora settles into making the best she can of the situation while waiting to find out how she can get back to her own time. As in many of those old school stories, there is a moral aspect to the plot – there is something that Flora will need to do before she can go back to her own time, and in the meantime, she will come out of her experiences in the novel a nicer and better person.

Beswitched is a fast and enjoyable read which will probably appeal to readers of about nine up, and their mothers. I am very grateful to the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Reading it has made me want to dig out my old copies of boarding school stories like Elinor Brent-Dyer's Chalet School books, and time travel books like Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer and Alison Uttley's A Traveller in Time.

Other boarding school stories that readers might enjoy include First Term at Silver Spires (School Friends) by Ann Bryant and Jill Murphy's The Worst Witch to the Rescue (and the five previous books in that series).

Other time travel stories include The Queen Must Die (Chronicles of the Tempus) by K A S Quinn and Timecatcher by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick. You might also enjoy Elspeth Hart and the School for Show-offs by Sarah Forbes.

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Buy Beswitched by Kate Saunders at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Beswitched by Kate Saunders at


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