Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!
Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon—the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.
Kerstin Gier's Ruby Red is young adult novel full of fantasy and romance.
About the Author
Kerstin Gier is the bestselling author of the Ruby Red trilogy, as well as several popular novels for adults. She lives in Germany.
Anthea Bell is the foremost translator of German literature in the world. And she thinks Ruby Red is just "charming"!
Read an Excerpt
By Kerstin Gier, Anthea Bell
Henry Holt and CompanyCopyright © 2011 Kerstin Gier
All rights reserved.
I FIRST FELT IT in the school canteen on Monday morning. For a moment it was like being on a roller coaster when you're racing down from the very top. It lasted only two seconds, but that was long enough for me to dump a plateful of mashed potatoes and gravy all over my school uniform. I managed to catch the plate just in time, as my knife and fork clattered to the floor.
"This stuff tastes like it's been scraped off the floor anyway," said my friend Lesley while I mopped up the damage as well as I could. Of course everyone was looking at me. "You can have mine too, if you fancy spreading some more on your blouse."
"No thanks." As it happens, the blouse of the St. Lennox High School uniform was pretty much the color of mashed potatoes anyway, but you still couldn't miss seeing the remaining globs of my lunch. I buttoned up my dark blue blazer over it.
"There goes Gwenny, playing with her food again!" said Cynthia Dale. "Don't you sit next to me, you mucky pup."
"As if I'd ever sit next to you of my own free will, Cyn." It's a fact, I'm afraid, that I did quite often have little accidents with school lunches. Only last week my pudding had hopped out of its dish and landed a few feet away, right in a Year Seven boy's spaghetti carbonara. The week before that I'd knocked my cranberry juice over, and everyone at our table was splashed. They looked as if they had measles. And I really couldn't count the number of times the stupid tie that's part of our school uniform had been drenched in sauce, juice, or milk.
Only I'd never felt dizzy at the same time before.
But I was probably just imagining it. There'd been too much talk at home recently about dizzy feelings.
Not mine, though: my cousin Charlotte's dizzy spells. Charlotte, beautiful and immaculate as ever, was sitting right there next to Cynthia, gracefully scooping mashed potatoes into her delicate mouth.
The entire family was on tenterhooks, waiting for Charlotte to have a dizzy fit. On most days, my grandmother, Lady Arista, asked Charlotte how she was feeling every ten minutes. My aunt Glenda, Charlotte's mother, filled the ten-minute gap by asking the same thing in between Lady Arista's interrogations.
And whenever Charlotte said that she didn't feel dizzy, Lady Arista's lips tightened and Aunt Glenda sighed. Or sometimes the other way around.
The rest of us — my mum, my sister Caroline, my brother Nick, and Great-aunt Maddy — rolled our eyes. Of course it was exciting to have someone with a time-travel gene in the family, but as the days went by, the excitement kind of wore off. Sometimes we felt that all the fuss being made over Charlotte was just too much.
Charlotte herself usually hid her feelings behind a mysterious Mona Lisa smile. In her place, I wouldn't have known whether to be excited or worried if dizzy feelings failed to show up. Well, to be honest, I'd probably have been pleased. I was more the timid sort. I liked peace and quiet.
"Something will happen sooner or later," Lady Arista said every day. "And we must be ready."
Sure enough, something did happen after lunch, in Mr. Whitman's history class. I'd left the canteen feeling hungry. I'd found a black hair in my dessert — apple crumble with custard — and I couldn't be sure if it was one of my own hairs or a lunch lady's. Anyway, I didn't fancy the crumble after that.
Mr. Whitman gave us back the history test we'd taken last week. "You obviously prepared well for it. Especially Charlotte. An A-plus for you, Charlotte."
Charlotte stroked a strand of her glossy red hair back from her face and said, "Oh, my!" as if the result came as a surprise to her. Even though she always had top marks in everything.
But Lesley and I were pleased with our own grades this time, too. We each had an A-minus, although our "preparation" had consisted of eating crisps and ice cream while we watched Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth and then Elizabeth: The Golden Age on DVD. We did pay attention in history class, though, which I'm afraid couldn't be said for all our other courses.
Mr. Whitman's classes were so intriguing that you couldn't help listening. Mr. Whitman himself was also very interesting. Most of the girls were secretly — or not so secretly — in love with him. So was our geography teacher, Mrs. Counter. She went bright red whenever Mr. Whitman passed her. And he was terribly good-looking. All the girls thought so, except Lesley. She thought Mr. Whitman looked like a cartoon squirrel.
"Whenever he looks at me with those big brown eyes, I feel like giving him a nut," she said. She even started calling the squirrels running around in the park Mr. Whitmans. The silly thing is that somehow it was infectious, and now, whenever a squirrel scuttled past me, I always said, "Oh, look at that cute, fat little Mr. Whitman!"
I'm sure it was the squirrel business that made Lesley and me the only girls in the class who weren't crazy about Mr. Whitman. I kept trying to fall in love with him (if only because the boys in our class were all somehow totally childish), but it was no good. The squirrel comparison had lodged itself in my mind and wouldn't go away. I mean, how can you feel romantic about a squirrel?
Cynthia had started the rumor that when he was studying, Mr. Whitman had worked as a male model on the side. By way of evidence, she'd cut an ad out of a glossy magazine, with a picture showing a man not unlike Mr. Whitman lathering himself with shower gel.
Apart from Cynthia, however, no one thought Mr. Whitman was the man in the shower-gel ad. The model had a dimple in his chin, and Mr. Whitman didn't.
The boys in our class didn't think Mr. Whitman was so great. Gordon Gelderman, in particular, couldn't stand him. Because before Mr. Whitman came to teach in our school, all the girls in our class were in love with Gordon. Including me, I have to admit, but I was only eleven at the time and Gordon was still quite cute. Now, at sixteen, he was just stupid. And his voice had been in a permanent state of breaking for the last two years. Unfortunately, the mixture of squealing and growling still didn't keep him from spewing nonsense all the time.
He got very upset about getting an F on the history test. "That's discrimination, Mr. Whitman. I deserve a B at least. You can't give me bad marks just because I'm a boy."
Mr. Whitman took Gordon's test back from him, turned a page, and read out, "Elizabeth I was so ugly that she couldn't get a husband. So everyone called her the Ugly Virgin."
The class giggled.
"Well? I'm right, aren't I?" Gordon defended himself. "I mean, look at her pop- eyes and her thin lips and that weird hairstyle."
We'd gone to study the pictures of the Tudors in the National Portrait Gallery, and in those paintings, sure enough, Queen Elizabeth I didn't look much like Cate Blanchett. But first, maybe people in those days thought thin lips and big noses were the last word in chic, and second, her clothes were really wonderful. Third, no, Elizabeth I didn't have a husband, but she had a lot of affairs, among them one with Sir ... oh, what was his name? Anyway, Clive Owen played him in the second film with Cate Blanchett.
"She was known as the Virgin Queen," Mr. Whitman told Gordon, "because ..." He paused and looked anxiously at Charlotte. "Are you feeling all right, Charlotte? Do you have a headache?"
Everyone looked at Charlotte, who had her head in her hands. "I feel ... I just feel dizzy," she said, looking at me. "Everything's going round and round."
I took a deep breath. So here we go, I thought. Lady Arista and Aunt Glenda would be over the moon.
"Wow, cool," whispered Lesley. "Is she going to turn all transparent now?" Although Lady Arista had repeatedly told us that under no circumstances were we ever to tell any outsider what was special about our family, I'd decided to ignore the ban when it came to Lesley. After all, she was my very best friend, and best friends don't have secrets from each other.
Since I'd known Charlotte (which in fact was all my life), she'd always seemed somewhat helpless. But I knew what to do. Goodness knows Aunt Glenda had told me often enough.
"I'll take Charlotte home," I told Mr. Whitman, as I stood up. "If that's okay."
Mr. Whitman's gaze was fixed on Charlotte. "I think that's a good idea, Gwyneth," he said. "I hope you feel better soon, Charlotte."
"Thanks," said Charlotte. On the way to the door, she swayed slightly. "Coming, Gwenny?"
I grabbed her arm. For the first time I felt quite important to Charlotte. It was a nice feeling to be needed for a change.
"Don't forget to phone and tell me all about it," Lesley whispered as we passed her.
Feeling slightly better outside the classroom, Charlotte wanted to fetch some things from her locker, but I held her firmly by the sleeve. "Not now, Charlotte! We have to get home as fast as possible. Lady Arista says —"
"It's gone again," said Charlotte.
"So? It could come back any moment." Charlotte let me steer her the other way. "Where did I put that chalk?" As we walked on, I searched my jacket pocket. "Oh, good, here it is. And my mobile. Shall I call home? Are you scared? Silly question, sorry. I'm so excited."
"It's okay. No, I'm not scared."
I glanced sideways at her to check whether she was telling the truth. She had that snooty little Mona Lisa smile on her face. You could never tell what she was hiding behind it.
"Well, shall I call home?"
"What use would that be?" Charlotte replied.
"I just figured —"
"You can leave the thinking to me, don't worry," said Charlotte.
We went down the stone steps to the place where James always sat. He rose to his feet when he saw us, but I just smiled at him. The trouble with James was that no one else could see or hear him — only me.
James was a ghost. Which is why I avoided talking to him when other people were around, except for Lesley. She'd never doubted James's existence for a second. Lesley believed everything I said, and that was one of the reasons she was my best friend. She was only sorry she couldn't see and hear James herself.
But I was glad of it, because when James first set eyes on Lesley, he said, "Good heavens above, the poor child has more freckles than there are stars in the sky! If she doesn't start using a good bleaching lotion at once, she'll never catch herself a husband!"
Whereas the first thing Lesley said when I introduced them to each other was "Ask him if he ever buried treasure anywhere."
Unfortunately James was not the treasure-burying type, and he was rather insulted that Lesley thought he might be. He was easily insulted.
"Is he transparent?" Lesley had asked at that first meeting. "Or kind of black and white?"
James looked just like anyone I'd ever met. Except for his clothes, of course.
"Can you walk through him?"
"I don't know. I've never tried."
"Then try now," Lesley suggested.
James was not about to let me try that.
"What does she mean, a ghost? The Honorable James Augustus Peregrine Pympoole-Bothame, heir to the fourteenth Earl of Hardsdale, is taking no insults from young girls!"
Like so many ghosts, he refused to accept that he wasn't alive anymore. Try as he might, he couldn't remember dying. James and I had met five years ago, on my first day at St. Lennox High School, but to James it seemed only a few days ago that he was sitting in his club playing cards with friends and talking about horses, beauty spots, and wigs. (He wore both a beauty spot and a wig, but they looked better on him than you might think.) He completely ignored the fact that I'd grown several inches since we first met, had acquired breasts, and braces on my teeth, and had shed the braces again. He dismisssed the fact that his father's grand town house had become a school with running water, electric light, and central heating. The only thing he did seem to notice from time to time was the ever-decreasing length of our school uniform skirts. Obviously girls' legs and ankles hadn't often been on show in his time.
"It's not very civil of a lady to walk past a highborn gentleman without a word, Miss Gwyneth," he called after me now. He was deeply offended that I'd brushed past him.
"Sorry. We're in a hurry," I said.
"If I can help you in any way, I am, of course, entirely at your service," James said, adjusting the lace on his cuffs.
"I don't think so, but thanks anyway. We just have to get home, fast." As if James could possibly have helped in any way! He couldn't even open a door. "Charlotte isn't feeling well," I explained.
"I'm very sorry to hear it," said James, who had a soft spot for Charlotte. Unlike "that ill-mannered girl with the freckles," as he called Lesley, he thought my cousin was "delightful, a vision of beguiling charm." Now he offered more of his flowery flattery. "Pray give her my best wishes. And tell her she looks as enchanting as ever. A little pale, but as captivating as a fairy."
"I'll tell her," I said, rolling my eyes.
"If you don't stop talking to your imaginary friend," snapped Charlotte, "you'll end up in the nuthouse."
Okay, then I wouldn't tell her. She was conceited enough as it was.
"James isn't imaginary, just invisible. There's a great difference."
"If you say so," replied Charlotte. She and Aunt Glenda thought I just made up James and the other ghosts for attention. Now I was sorry I'd ever told Charlotte about them. As a small child, though, I couldn't manage to keep my mouth shut about gargoyles coming to life — scrambling down the fronts of buildings before my very eyes and twisting their Gothic faces for me to see. The gargoyles were funny, but there were also some dark, grim-looking ghosts, and I was afraid of those. It took me a couple of years to realize that ghosts can't hurt you. All they can really do to people is scare them.
Not James, of course. He was not frightening in the least.
"Lesley thinks it may be a good thing that James died young. With a name like Pympoole-Bothame, how would he ever have found a wife?" I said, after making sure James was out of hearing distance. "I mean, who'd marry a man with a name that sounds like Pimple-Bottom?"
Charlotte rolled her eyes.
"He's not bad-looking," I went on. "And he's filthy rich too — if he's telling the truth about his family. It's just his habit of raising a perfumed lace hanky to his nose that doesn't exactly make me swoon."
"What a shame there's no one but you to admire him," said Charlotte.
I thought so myself.
"And how stupid of you to talk about how weird you are outside the family," added Charlotte.
That was another of Charlotte's typical digs. It was meant to hurt me, and as a matter of fact, it did.
"I'm not weird!"
"Of course you are!"
"You're a fine one to talk, gene carrier!"
"Well, I don't go blabbing on about it all over the place," said Charlotte. "You're like Great-aunt Mad Maddy. She even tells the postman about her visions."
"You're a jerk."
"And you're naive."
Still quarreling, we walked through the front hall, past the janitor's glazed cubicle, and out into the school yard. The wind was picking up, and the ominous sky held the promise of rain. I wished we had grabbed our coats from our lockers.
"Sorry I said that about you being like Great-aunt Maddy," said Charlotte, suddenly sounding remorseful. "I'm excited, but I am a bit nervous as well."
I was surprised. Charlotte never apologized.
"I know," I replied almost too quickly. I wanted her to know that I appreciated her apology. But in reality, I couldn't have been further from understanding how she felt. I'd have been scared out of my wits. In her shoes, I'd have been about as excited as if I were going to the dentist. "Anyway, I like Great-aunt Maddy," I added. That was true. Great-aunt Maddy might be a bit talkative and inclined to say everything four times over, but I liked that a lot better than the mysterious way the others carried on. And Great-aunt Maddy was always very generous when it came to handing out sherbet lemons.
Excerpted from Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier, Anthea Bell. Copyright © 2011 Kerstin Gier. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
If I had known the other two books hadn't been translated I might not have read this book just yet. Because I don't know if I'll be able to wait for the next two books to be translated. Wish I knew German!!! Loved the book. There are a lot of characters, but at the back of the book is a character list with short descriptions. Must read!!!
AMAZING book i couldn't put it down after i started it i would recommend this book to everybody
I thought it was great. It kept the story flowing from begining to end. My only let down was it wasn't long enough. And we have to wait till spring till for the next one to come out. I hope it's long read.
I was extremely disappointed with this book. I read all of the reviews before I purchased it, but I feel that they are misleading. The premise of the story is great, but the execution of that premise is horrible. I understand that this is marked as a Teen book, but I still feel that the writing in and of itself was poorly done. There is very little being shown to you, and instead, everything is being told. It was not on par to many of the Teen novels out there today. The character development was nearly non existent. The plot itself ended up being much more boring than the premise made it out to be. There was nothing that really, truly drew me into the book. Normally, I do not like to leave series unfinished. However, this was so poorly written that I don't think I will be continuing the series. I think the author had a good idea, but didn't execute it nearly as well as I feel she could have.
Started out a little slow, but became very amazing. I cannot wait for Sapphire Blue and Emerald Green!
Great book, you are going to love it!
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier Book One of the Edelstein Trilogie Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. Publciation Date: March 10, 2011 Rating: 5 stars Source: Public library Summary (from Goodreads): Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era! Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust. What I Liked: I LOVED this book so much!!!! I read it back in like, Spring 2011, but I read it so many times, I can still remember most everything! I usually hate time-travel books, or really dislike them, but this book is amazing! I love Gwyneth! She is so cute and brave at the same time! I love her ability to adjust and adapt, even with her foul cousin hanging around. Gwyneth is brave, but inside, she is completely terrified of what is put in front of her. It could not have been easy to understand and go through all of that time-traveling drama, especially with the snobby members of the Society and Charlotte acting high and mighty, but Gwyneth handled herself so well throughout this book. This book is very light, with plenty of fun humor, but it is also very complex. When Gwyneth finds out about time-travel, she is thrown into the world of the gifted families and the prophecies relating to each gem (Gwyneth is a ruby, Gideon is a diamond, etc.). Also, almost immediately, the Society realizes that there have been strange activity going on with time-travel, all relating to Gwyneth's cousin Lucy, and Gideon's relative Paul. It gets twisted everyone! Very complex! But in a good, non-confusing way. I love it. THERE IS NO LOVE TRIANGLE!!!! Kind of. I do not count Charlotte for anything. She sucks. And I rather like Gideon with Gwyneth (I do not think that is a spoiler). What I Did Not Like: There is not much I can say here. I adore this book. Would I Recommend It: YES!!! To time-travel and non-time-travel fans alike! Trust me, this book is not hard to follow and understand, though things get complicated fast. I LOVE IT!!! Rating: 5 stars (this was one of my favorites of 2011! But I did not have a blog back then)
So amazing that I almost cried when it said there is going to be another book... That isn't even out yet!
I got this book at my local library and was amazed at how good and brilliant book it was!!!!!!! Vicky
I really loved the book. I thought it was amazing and wonderful. Most definetly recommended to friends
I really liked Ruby Red primarily because it held my interest through out the story. The general idea and the plot line were wonderful, but the book seemed to be over too soon. It was easy to follow, but seemed like it ended JUST when some of the really interesting parts started to unfold. Definately not for adults, but i think most teens that like books about time travel with complicated mysterious plots, and a bit of a love interest, would really enjoy it. I cant wait for the next books to be translated to english, and only hope that they last a bit longer, and dont end with so many questions and cliff hangers.
4.5 Stars This book blew me away. I mean, what is there in this book that is not for me to love. It has an amazing story, amazing characters and TIME TRAVEL!!! Ruby Red was a really new take on time travel. In this book there is no time machine like the TARDIS are mythical powers that allow a person to travel in time. Instead, there are two families who carry a gene for time travel. They are the only two families who carry this gene. The gene carries them back in time and there is no way to prevent it. They do have a machine that works on science that helps to control the time travel. The element of time travel is huge in this book. Gier combines part science and part magic to make her time travel occur and I loved it. The writing and story-telling in Ruby Red is top quality. The writing was very mature and descriptive. The writing felt like that of older fairy tales or stories. And then the story-telling was perfect. The plot unfolded at a perfect pace. Once again, this book reminded me of a fairy tale. I felt the writing along with the story makes this book have the potential to be a modern day fairy tale. While it doesn't have princess or princes, it just has the classical fairy tale feel, or at least for me it did. I do want to say that because this book is translated, I do not know if it has the same feel in German as in English, but the translator did a beautiful job. The characters in Ruby Red were all really enjoyable. I feel as if each character in this book has a secret that has yet to be revealed to us yet. There are parts of each character that remain a mystery as of yet. The main character Gwyneth was a enjoyable narrator. She was thrust unexpectedly into the role of time-traveler and reacted the way one would if they suddenly traveled in time. I really liked Gwyneth because she felt like an authentic teenager. Then there is Gideon. Gideon to me is still a mystery. He is not your typical swoon worthy hero. At first he is kind of a jerk, but there is still something about him. I feel like we still have much to learn about him and I cannot wait to discover more about who he is. And now I want to talk about how evil that ending was. The ending was PERFECT in a really evil way. It kind of left the main characters in the middle of a scene but it was a perfect cliffhanger. Now I want to say, if an excerpt for the next book is included in the first book I usually do not read it, but with Ruby Red I HAD TO read that excerpt. I just needed to know what happened next. Ruby Red is a beautifully crafted story. It spoiled other books for me afterwards. I truly wish I could read German so I could go and buy the next two books in the series and read them now because I do not know how I am going to wait for them to be published in English!
These books are great. I recommend them all! They are smooth reading, and there is plenty of mystery, romance (not raunchy), and climax for your pleasure. You won't be dissapointed. Side note: the books were a bit short for the money, they read too fast at only 200 pages. Still a great read though.
If you are look at the reviews trying to decide weither or not to buy this, let me make up your mind for you...... Buy it. You will fall in love with this story and its characters.
I admit when i first picked this book up i thought, this is going to be stupid, but i read it anyways i was bored. I was wrong. A intrestesting novel, well crafted and kept me enticed.
Unlike some of you, I read just to enjoy reading. The stories are important and are to be judged on the story. In my opinion just because an author doesn't write like everybody else, it doesn't make them bad. I thought it was a wonderful book, the characters were realistic and the story was believeable. (Yes I'm well aware that time travel doesn't exist. I mean the plot wasn't too fast or choppy.) For those of you who just want to enjoy a good story, this is a good book for you. Most of my fellow reviewers are correct, this is a very good story with a realistic main character that actually seems like a real person. (Oh, how rare a find that is!) I think you should give this book a try, you'll be suprised when you realize that you've been reading for four hours and have forgotten to do your homework. (Oops.) I was unable to put this book down and it has been so long since I've read a book good enough for me to sneak out the flashlight and read in bed at night when I should be sleeping. The book is a good read and worth a try.
This book was SOSOSO good that I read it in one night and got the next book the next day. The time travel thing is what interested me and what made me read this story. I read that some were disappointed with the story because of the plot and climax... well that is why there is a series, so you can find out what it all means in the next books. If you are like me and want to make sure you like the book first before you buy it... then go to the library so you don't regret buying a bad book. Happens to the best of us. But seriously if you like 'out of the norm' things like time travel mixed with mystery and a hint of romance, the you will like this book.
What is not to like ? Time travel....characters that have universal appeal YAY. I am having a hard time waiting for Emerald Green to come out
This book was AMAZING!!!! It held my attention through out the whole thing and read it in a day... same with saphirre blue, cant wait for Emerald Green to come out!!!!!
This series is the best ever , out of all the books i read this and sapphire blue are my favorite books.Any way There very good sence through the series and always is adventure when you start getting in the second book it is not a kids book more YA as said in most B&N but i made the mistke and let my 3rd grade cousin read it .Let just say she came back with many questions which i lead to her mom.I may be in some troble any way best book ever
I LOVED this book! I read it in two days! I couldn't put it down. a definite read
I loved this book and the second book two ( sapphire blue)
This book was great, it was different then other books i have read. In my opinion i loved this book.
I was really disappointed with this book. I liked the story but there was no climax at all. I literally just read like 5 days of this girls life with no resolution at all to any of the questions brought up in the plot. Very frustrating. Very unsatisfying.
This book is only for certain people. Yes, there is twists and turns and romance, but some see it as poorly written. I would have to say the is for younger teens and only younger teens, because it is in their understanding. adults would NOT like this book. Other gier books are strictly towards the more mature people, but this is strictly for teens.