Monday, 17 February 2014

Moondial: atmospheric and strangely moving

I bought Moondial by Helen Cresswell after reading rave reviews of the 1980s BBC serial of the same name.  I watched the DVD of the serial before reading the book.  I enjoyed it, but not as much as I thought I would.  Over-rated, slightly confusing and the ending didn't quite work.

I've just finished the book and it was so much better: well drawn sympathetic characters, a touch of humour, evocative descriptions of the house and gardens, and the dreamlike quality of the moonlight. The serial was very faithful to the book, but it just couldn't carry it off.  Perhaps our imaginations can conjure up atmosphere and setting in a way that eludes the harsh lense of a camera?

And the ending was beautiful written:  moving without being sentimental and just the right amount of magic.

Moondial is the story of three children who become friends and have to overcome supernatural evil as well as their own fears and problems, despite living in different centuries.  Minty in 1980s Britain has a mother who has gone into a coma after a road accident, Tom, a Victorian servant boy, living far from home is dying of consumption and misses his little sister, 18th century Sarah walks by moonlight and is a prisoner of the day.

I've given it 5 stars and added it to my list of Top 100 Children's Books.

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