Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Though narrated in the stylized, spine-tingling voice that has become a Cooney trademark, this tale of time travel and romance lacks the momentum of the author's best work (The Face on the Milk Carton; Driver's Ed). While her decidedly unromantic boyfriend tinkers with a car engine, Annie wanders through the soon-to-be-demolished Stratton mansion, longing for a more gracious way of life. Suddenly she ``falls through'' 100 years-landing in 1895 just in time to witness (albeit hazily) a murder. The first person Annie meets is Hiram ``Strat'' Stratton, slated to inherit both the mansion and the family fortune if he marries his plain but sweet and devoted cousin Harriett. Annie and Strat fall head over heels in love, thus reproducing in the 19th century a triangle loosely similar to the situation created by Annie's father, who, unbeknownst to Annie's mother, is conducting an affair with a co-worker. Along with the murder, the various affairs of the heart provide fodder for almost requisite musings on the position of women then and now. Constrained by the novel's black-and-white approach, the truly intriguing social issues raised here never acquire real urgency. Ages 12-up. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
Annie Lockwood finds herself living on Both Sides of Time in Barbara Cooney's 1995 romance. Annie, dancing through an old Long Island mansion that's slated for destruction, wonders what it was like when people really lived in the house. Did they waltz? Suddenly she glimpses people dressed in 100-year-old fashions-and they see her! Time travel is not what Annie expected, nor did she expect to fall in love with the son of the family that lives in the house. Can she stay in 1895 forever? A good read for the romantic.
The ALAN Review - Betty Carter
Annie Lawrence wants romance from her boyfriend, Sean. She wants the perfect marriage from her parents. She wants the pampered life of the idle rich. But dreams don't mirror reality. Sean worships cars rather than Annie. Her father dallies in an affair. And her self-sufficient, career-oriented future is all mapped out. Catapulted a century back in time, Annie finds her heart's desire: a rich, handsome suitor who loves and adores her. Alas, her new life revolves around a dark melodrama, peopled with dastardly villains and virginal victims. She also discovers that Victorian opulence masks its own set of societal problems, often paralleling contemporary ones. Cooney tirelessly points out these analogies, producing a book that doesn't completely satisfy as either a romance or a social treatise. Not as strong as her critically acclaimed single novels (Driver's Ed), nor as weak as her series fiction (The Fog), in literary terms this offering languishes between the two.
Disturbed by her parents' marital discord and completely taken for granted by Sean, her mechanically inclined boyfriend, Annie Lockwood is ripe for romance. And where better to find it than in the past--a past epitomized by the once elegant mansion about to be razed in her hometown. At the mansion during a storm, Annie finds herself falling 100 years back in time to a point, where she encounters the romantic idyll she has yearned for and where she alters the lives of several people when she and Hiram Stratton Jr. fall in love. But she realizes that the 1890s are not her time and makes the transition back to the present, only to realize that she has to return to prevent a miscarriage of justice because a ladies' maid has been wrongfully accused of murder. Life among the wealthy in the 1890s is nicely rendered, as are Annie's bittersweet experiences. However, after the first time, Annie's time shifting loses credibility, and her ready acceptance by the Strattons is forced. But romantics will be caught up by the story and will catch their breath at the cliff-hanger of an ending, when Annie, trying to return to her own time, falls even further back in time and "opened her eyes to see when, and what, came next."
Read an Excerpt
CHAPTER 1Copyright 2001 by Caroline B. Cooney
It was Annie's agenda that summer to convert her boyfriend, Sean, into a romantic man. It would not be easy, everyone agreed on that. Sean was far more likely to be holding metric wrenches than a bouquet of roses for Annie.
Annie did not know why she went out with Sean. (Not that you could call it "going out." It was "going to.")
Sean's spare time involved the repair of mechanical objects, or preventive maintenance on mechanical objects. There was always a lawn mower whose engine must be rebuilt, or an '83 pickup truck acquired in a trade whose every part
must be replaced.
Annie would arrive at the spot where Sean was currently restoring a vehicle.
She would watch. She would buy Cokes. Eventually Sean would say he had to do
something else now, so good-bye.
Nevertheless, on this, the last half day of school, Annie had planned to hold hands for cameras, immortalized as boyfriend and girlfriend. But Seanthe least-romantic handsome boy in Americahad skipped.
The girls met in front of the mirrors, of course, to compare white dresses and fix each other's hair. Usually everybody dressed sloppily. It was almost embarrassing to look good for a change. Annie Lockwood had gotten her white dress when she was bridesmaid in a garden wedding last year. Embroidered with a thousand starry white flowers, the skirt had a great deal of cloth in it, swirling when she walked. At least the dress was perfect for romance.
Everybody was exuberant and giddy. The moment school was exchanged for summer, they'd converge on the beach for a party that would last all afternoon and evening.
Anniebrushed her thick dark hair into a ponytail and spread a white lace scrunchy in her right hand to hold it.
"So where is the Romance Champion?" asked her best friend, Heather.
"He's at the Mansion," Annie explained, "getting his cars ready to drive away."
Sean would be at the old Stratton Mansion, getting his stuff off the grounds
Sean loved destruction. Even though it was his own home being torn down, Sean didn't care. He couldn't wait to see the wrecking balls in action. It was Annie who wept for the Mansion.
The town had decided to rip it down. They were right, of course. Nobody had maintained the Mansion. Kids had been rollerskating in the ballroom for decades. Roof leaks from the soaring towers had traveled down three floors and ruined every inch of plaster. To the town, it was just a looming, dangerous hulk.
But oh, Annie Lockwood loved the Mansion.
The girls hurried out of the bathroom at the same second, not fitting, so they had to gather their skirts and giggle and launch themselves through the door again. The whole half day was silly and frivolous. Annie decided she was good at silly and frivolous, and it was a shame they didn't get to behave that way more often. School ended with hugs, and seniors got weepy
and the freshmen vanished, which was the only decent thing for ninth graders to do, and everybody shouted back and forth about the afternoon plans.
"See you at the beach," called Heather.
Annie nodded. "First I have to collect Sean."
That Sean would agree to play beach volleyball when he had a car repair deadline was highly unlikely. But Annie would certainly try.
When the school bus dropped her off, she didn't even go into the house to change her clothes, but retrieved her bike from the garage and started pedaling. The frothy white dress billowed out behind her in fat white balloons. It was a ridiculous thing to bicycle in. She pulled off the scrunchy and let
her hair fly too. Her hair was dark and romantic against the white of her dress.
I'm going to ruin the dress, she thought. I should have changed into jeans, especially when I know perfectly well Sean is just changing the oil on some car and he'll want me to help.
I'll help you, she promised the absent Sean. I will repair your entire personality, you lucky guy. By the end of summer, you will have worth.
Lately, Annie had been reading every advice column in existence: Ann Landers, Dear Abby, Miss Manners. She'd become unusually hooked on radio and television talk shows. She knew two things now:
A. You weren't supposed to try to change other people. It didn't work and afterward they hated you.
B. Mind Your Own Business.
Of course nobody ever obeyed those two rules; it would take all the fun out of life. Annie had no intention whatsoever of following either A or B.
She pedaled through the village toward Stratton Point. The land was solid with houses. Hardly a village now that eighty thousand people lived here, but the
residents, most of whom had moved from New York City, liked to pretend they were rural.
It was very warm, but the breeze was not friendly. The sky darkened. They were in for a good storm. (Her father always called a storm "good.") Annie thought about the impending thunderstorm at home, and then decided not to think about it.
Passing the last house, she crossed the narrow spit of land, two cars wide, that led to Stratton Point. Sometime in the 1880s, a railroad baron had built his summer "cottage" on an island a few hundred yards from shore. He created a yacht basin, so he could commute to New York City, and then built a causeway, so his family could ride in their splendid monogrammed carriage to the village ice cream parlor. He added a magnificent turreted bathhouse down by a stretch of soft white sand, and a carriage house, stables, an echo house, and even a decorative lighthouse with a bell tower instead of warnings.
Decades after the parties ceased and nobody was there to have afternoon tea or play croquet, the Mansion was divided into nine apartments and the six hundred acres of Stratton Point became a town park. The bathhouse was used by the public now. The Garden Club reclaimed the walled gardens, and where Mr. Stratton's single yacht had once been docked, hundreds of tiny boats cluttered the placid water. Day campers detoured by the echo house to scream forbidden words and listen to them come back. I didn't say it, they would protest happily.
The nine apartments were occupied by town crew, including Sean's father, whose job it was to keep up roads and parks and storm drains. Nobody kept the Mansion up.