Sunday, September 11, 2011

Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer

   It's the early 1960s, and Charlotte is the new girl in a boarding school.  As if making friends and getting used to a new home isn't hard enough, Charlotte is dumbfounded when she wakes up on her second morning at the school and finds that everything is different.  The furniture is different.  The scenery is different.  The people are even different.  Everyone seems to know who she is, but they all call her Clare for some reason.  After asking a few inconspicuous questions, Charlotte realizes that she has switched bodies with someone named Clare and has traveled back in time to 1918.  Only Clare's sister, Emily, knows about the switch, and together they must come up with a plan to switch Charlotte and Clare back to themselves before this change becomes permanent.

   For a children's book, Charlotte Sometimes has some surprisingly adult themes.  Being that Charlotte's second life takes place during WWI, the children in this book must deal with war, death, and loneliness at an early age.  At one point, there is even a seance, which I did not expect at all (especially for a book written in 1969).  I did not expect the book to be quite so serious, but I liked it anyway.  It book became kind of a cult classic when The Cure recorded the song "Charlotte Sometimes" in 1981. Here's the song if you're interested: