November 15, 2012
First sentence: "At least look at the picture!" Flora's dad begged."
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Flora Fox is a spoiled brat.
That's putting it mildly.
As an only child of older parents, she always gets her way. In everything. So, it's beyond her capability to understand why her parents would want to send her to boarding school (of all places!) while they go to Italy to fetch Flora's grandmother (the old bat) and build a flat for her in the garage of Flora's Wimbledon home. It's just. not. fair.
I'm going to stop here a minute and say that I found Flora to be Insufferable. So much so, that I thought quite seriously about putting the book down (or at the very least throwing it across the room. Or slapping Flora on the behind). I'm glad I didn't.
On the train to her boarding school, Something Happens, and when Flora wakes up, she's no longer in the 21st century, she's in 1935.
(Yay for time travel!)
She has to adjust to the whole all-girl boarding school thing, the 1935 thing, the sharing a room with other people thing, the making friends thing, and the fact that Flora may be stuck in 1935, unless the three girls who summoned her there -- Pete (short for Daphne Peterson), Pogo (Cecelia Lawrence), and Dulcie -- can figure out a way to send her back.
As I mentioned, the beginning was rough because Flora was so unlikeable. Once it hit 1935, Flora was still unlikeable, but it was more understandable: I am giving Saunders full points (or ponys as they're called in the book) for making Flora have a difficult time adjusting. I would have hated it if Flora had hit the ground running, finding transitioning to 1935 a breeze. Rather, it was difficult and jarring for Flora to adjust, which made the whole experience that much more interesting for me.
And, to be fair, Flora made a remarkable improvement over the course of the book. (I was quite grateful for that!) In the end, I thought that Saunders wrote a great fish-out-of-water story, with some lovely lessons (and yet wasn't too heavy-handed!), and I found the book to be wonderfully enjoyable.
(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I've been asked to make sure y'all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.)