We open on a bog, located somewhere in the presentish Britain, where two people are gathering around a table and chairs, all set for tea. Just a short distance away is an old blue police box, looking for all the world like a refugee from the 1960’s.
The two have just plopped down, a man wearing a fez and a teen girl sporting a school uniform. The man starts pouring the tea, which is of course Earl Grey, and looks up with a blinding smile.
The Doctor: I now call to order this meeting of the Lesley Livingston Pan-Dimensional Time Travellers Fan Club. Roll Call: The Doctor. HERE! Herm-
Hermione: You know I am here. I am the only other person here! Why must you be so obtuse? Can we get on with the meeting? I have exams and knitting to attend to with no time for your continued silliness.
The Doctor: Hehe. You said you have no time. But you have a Time Turner. Hehe.
Hermione: You are the most immature Time Lord I have ever met. Can we get back to the book? It is most fascinating and-
The Doctor: -And quite fun! Lots of time travel and bog bodies and internetty things going on! And one villain who is by turns nefarious and nincompoop like! Gotta love it!
Hermione: Will you stop interrupting me? Your fourth iteration never used to do that. Honestly, you could not be more annoying unless you were Ron. Now back to the Lesley Livingston book we are discussing this week, Once Every Never. It is part of a series by the author, whom I suspect has magical heritage in her, which deals with a typical teenage girl named Clare who is sent with her best friend to live in-
The Doctor: -Britain for the summer because of some slightly naughty behavior. They hang out in the history museum with Clare’s aunt, the scientist, and quickly discover that Clare can “shimmer” into the past and hang around with the ancient Celts. Have fun. Party. Chase a boy around. And that name Clare is certainly familiar to me.
Hermione: If you interrupt me again, I shall put my wand up your nose and shout Accio Brains! Now than Doctor, yes, she does have some fun in the past and meets a nice boy, but that is hardly everything that happens when she “shimmers.” She does end up right in the midst of a war for the heart and soul of Britain. That would be terrifying for anyone, seventeen year old girl or not. Seeing death and destruction all around, and the urge to try to change history to save people. Have you nothing to say about that Doctor? You and I both have seen the awfulness of war.
The Doctor: I wonder if Clare met Jamie…
Hermione: DOCTOR! You are avoiding my question! What are your thoughts on Clare dealing with the horrors of war and her attempts to mitigate the carnage?
The Doctor: Oh alright, to be serious for a millisecond or two, I really felt for Clare. Thrust into a situation she can barely understand, and trying her best to get through it and do the right thing is not easy. Even with her return “shimmering” to the present, and seeking help and advice from her friends Alli and Milo, Clare still must make split second decisions when she is 1,000 years in the past. Big decisions. This is one of the reasons Once Every Never is handed to all my traveling companions, so that they can understand the why of what I do. Adric, of course, never finished it.
Hermione: Thank you Doctor. That is the best reply you have given me since the time you wore that leather jacket. You are a very wise fellow who cares deeply for all those around you. But you never told me Once Every Never was required reading on the Tardis.
The Doctor: Oh Hermione, I am a man of many mysteries! People always ask me what my name is, how does the sonic screwdriver work, where is the loo…
Hermione: Yes, but the more important questions must be asked as well. Such as how Clare deals with self esteem issues. I think we all know someone who feels overshadowed by others, which is so unfortunate and unnecessary. Many readers will connect with Clare’s feeling here, and will root for her. I find it quite inspiring. Thoughts Doctor?
The Doctor: Quite agree! But I also think we would be amiss not mentioning the humour in the book. In fact Lesley Livingston’s way of knitting the serious with the weirdly funny is also what makes Once Every Never a favourite of mine. Sometimes it feels like I am reading a Peter David book. And sometimes, when Clare and Allie are arguing over time travel or such, it feels like Douglas Adams.
Hermione: Oh Yes! Completely agreed! She does a very excellent job straddling the two styles. I also find the time travel explanations fascinating, and I am still trying to figure out how the spells used in the book work.
The Doctor: Wibbly-Wobbly Timey-Wimey. Let the experts think about all that noise. But we really should get going now, tea is all done and Daleks and such to fight.
Hermione: Thank you Doctor. When you finally settle down you can be a quite interesting person to discuss literature with. And, by the way, do you have the knitting I asked of you?
The Doctor: Yep! Here it is! (plops a big basket full of knitted socks onto the table) Have fun with S.P.E.W. I admire what you are trying to do and wish you luck.
Hermione: Thank you Doctor. Every little bit helps. When will we meet next?
The Doctor: Oh, probably Thursday when Scoop reviews the sequel book, Every Never After.
Hermione: That is so meta of you.
The Doctor: I know!
They both look up at you, the reader. Cue spooky music. Time to “shimmer” back to our reality…
…is currently reading Superman Archives Volume 1 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.