In this twisting time-travel thriller, a woman faints on the eve of her wedding—and awakens at the turn of the century in her grandmother’s body . . . The night before she is supposed to get married, Shay Garrett has no idea that a glimpse into her grandmother’s antique Chinese mirror will completely transform her seemingly ordinary life. But after a bizarre blackout, she wakes up to find herself in the same house—but in the year 1900. Even stranger, she realizes she is now living in the body of her grandmother, Brandy McCabe, as a young woman. Meanwhile, Brandy, having looked into the same mirror, awakens in Shay’s body in the present day—and discovers herself pregnant. As Rachael—the woman who links these two generations, mother to one and daughter to another—weaves back and forth between two time periods, this imaginative thriller explores questions of family, identity, and love. Courageous, compassionate Shay finds herself fighting against the confines of a society still decades away from women’s liberation, while Brandy struggles to adapt to the modern world she has suddenly been thrust into. The truth behind this inexplicable turn of events is more complex than either woman can imagine—and The Mirror is a tribute to the triumph of the female spirit, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.“What happens will surprise you. In the meantime, settle down for a good read.” — The Denver Post
|Publisher:||Open Road Integrated Media LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Marlys Millhiser was an American author of fifteen mysteries and horror novels. Born in Charles City, Iowa, Millhiser originally worked as a high school teacher. She served as a regional vice president of the Mystery Writers of America and was best known for her novel The Mirror and for the Charlie Greene Mysteries
Read an Excerpt
By Marlys Millhiser
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1978 Marlys Millhiser
All rights reserved.
The Gingerbread House sat sullenly in the downpour. Water gurgled in its eaves troughs, cascaded from its peaks and false turrets, dripped from lacy trim bordering porches and railings and overhangs.
The streetlight pinpointed wet speartips on the ornate fence, made dancing leaves sweep shadows across the gate swinging in the wind. A hollow clang sounded over the noise of the storm as the gate returned to strike uselessly at its latch.
In the grassy depression between the black fence and the city sidewalk, a puddle gathered, its spillover creeping under the gate.
The Gingerbread House stood aloof from the surrounding city and from the rearing wall of mountains that crouched but a few blocks to the west, insulated by the storm, by its ancient trees, by its history in a neighborhood gone neon and brash.
Storm sewers could not cope with this rare deluge and a car moved cautiously up the hill to the stop sign opposite, headlights piercing the spaces in the fence, reaching to the porches and windows of the house set far back in the protection of its lot....
Shay Garrett, sitting on the window seat in the upstairs hall, leaned into the curving window as the car turned the corner. Headlights twisted through the distortion of old glass and wind-driven rain to bring fire to the solitaire on her finger.
She turned the ring so the diamond faced her palm, heard the mutter of voices downstairs, imagined a prickly tension waiting in the dark silence of the hall at her back.
As she rubbed the stiffened muscles of her neck, she felt the diamond cold against her skin and wished that it could rain inside the house, wash away the dust of decades, generations, decay, boredom.
Tomorrow a wedding band would be added to the solitaire. Tomorrow Shay would shake the dust of this house from her heels. Why then this uneasy feeling, this ennui so morbid and weighted it constricted her breathing?
"Shay?" her mother's voice came up the stairwell, sounding a bit frayed. "It's time to take Grandma Bran up. Can you help?"
Shay let her breath out slowly. "I'm coming."
"Why, the light's not even on," Rachael said below and Shay heard the switch click downstairs.
Instant light glared on new flowered carpeting and wallpaper meant to look old. The imagined, energized tension in the air seemed heavier as Shay passed the door of her room.
At the head of the stairs the wedding portrait was crooked and she paused to straighten it. The age-darkened photograph of Grandma Bran and her stiff-mustachioed husband. How could the woman in the picture be the same as the woman below, sprung from her eternal nursing home for the wedding tomorrow? Aging made no sense to Shay.
She moved down the curving stairs, half-strangled with the oppression of family relics and forebears.
"What were you doing up there with the lights off?" Rachael Garrett pushed the wheelchair to the bottom of the stairs and slid a hand under the old lady's arm to lift her.
Jerrold Garrett set his drink beside the telephone on the ancient buffet. "Probably leaning against a wall being winsomely bored."
A momentary tableau of the faces in front of Shay ... her parents' looks of helplessness, a touch of longing ... the rather sweet vacancy of her grandmother's stare. Shay forced a reassuring smile. "The gate's off the latch, Daddy. It's banging in the wind." She took Grandma Bran's other arm and it trembled at her touch.
"I'll get it." He grabbed a raincoat from the hall tree and the smell of soaked wood rushed in at them as he slammed the door.
Rachael smiled over the nodding white head between them, but through a mist of tears. "Well, what did you think of it?"
"Think of what?"
"Your wedding present ... in your room. You couldn't have missed it."
"I didn't go in my room. What is it?"
"The mirror from the attic. The one you were so intrigued with, remember? We've always called it the wedding mirror because it came into the family as a wedding present. It's very old and I suspect valuable. I thought you should have something ... of the family."
As Shay tried to remember a particular mirror from an attic stuffed with the discards of generations, Grandma Bran lurched forward.
Her mother caught herself on the banister. But her grandmother clutched at Shay, pale lips forming soundless words, sudden intentness replacing the emptiness of her stare.
"You don't think she's having another stroke?" Fear caught in Rachael's whisper as they pushed the old woman back into the chair.
A bony hand yanked at her wrist and Shay found herself on her knees in front of the wheelchair. "Mother, she's trying to talk. It's all right, Grandma." But she couldn't free her wrist. Nor believe how strong this tiny creature had become. Nor ward off the panic that seemed to pass from the frail body to her own.
"Damn gate's broken again." Her father and the rain smell entered the hall together. "Why the hell you insist upon hanging onto every piece of junk your family ever — what's the matter with her?"
"I don't know. I thought she might be having a stroke, but she seems to be trying to talk. Her color's high, though, Jerry."
The pinks of the delicate flowers on the wallpaper swam into the reds. The darkness of the buffet levitated in the blurred periphery of Shay's vision. She felt lost in her grandmother's eyes, as if she were being pulled out of herself, merging with the agony of the old woman's struggle as withered lips fought to form around something and sagging throat worked to give it voice.
"What is it, Grandma?"
"Mirror," Grandma Bran answered clearly. It was the first word she'd spoken in twenty years.CHAPTER 2
Shay leaned the folded canvas and metal of the wheelchair against the wall in the guest room. Her father set Grandma Bran on the edge of the bed.
Rachael grasped her husband's arm as he straightened. "That's the first thing she's said since her stroke. Jerry, you don't think there's hope ... after all this time?"
"I think you never give up on anything." He gestured toward the woman on the bed, whose vacant smile belied the brief lapse into reality they'd witnessed downstairs. "She's probably happier where she is, wherever she's gone. Leave her alone."
Shay still felt the impact of that emotional exchange. Her grandmother, after forcing out one word, had shuddered, looked confused and then lost all interest in further communication. "But why did she look so frightened when she said 'mirror'?"
"Oh, honey, she wasn't frightened. She just can't control her expressions that well." Rachael touched the parchment cheek and the old lady patted her hand as if to offer comfort. "I just wish it'd lasted longer. There's so much I want to say to her, ask her."
"Well, I still think it's a mistake having Bran here for the wedding." Jerry forced a creaking window open a few inches at the top. "She's not going to know the difference and she might do something to wreck it."
"She's never been any trouble. I'll watch her." When he was gone Rachael turned to Shay.
"You understand, don't you? You're the only one of her grandchildren she responds to anymore. I'm not sure she recognizes her own sons. I thought she should be here."
"Mother, it's fine. I'm glad Grandma will be at my wedding. And Marek won't mind."
Rachael stared at Grandma Bran as if willing her to speak again, but the old lady was absorbed in folding her suit jacket. Sitting erect, she fumbled at the blouse's buttons. She could do so much for herself. At the table she rarely spilled her food. Her walk was halting, a barely perceptible dragging of one foot. Only in the last few years had the doctor insisted a wheelchair be kept handy so she wouldn't tire.
Shay hovered near the bed with a nightgown and hoped she'd never live to grow this old.
When Rachael returned with Grandma Bran from a trip to the bathroom, Shay helped to tuck the covers around the wasted body.
"Honey, about tomorrow. It isn't too late."
"Mother, don't —"
"Please, let me finish. I have to say this and I promise to say it only once. If you ..."
Rachael pushed back thick hair where any trace of gray had been camouflaged. "I'm not accusing you of anything, darling. Oh, I don't know how to say this. But ... if you —"
"Mother, I can see you're never going to get it right and we don't have all night. Let me say it for you. Shay," she tried to imitate her mother's low voice, "if you're pregnant your father and I will pay for you to have the baby at some home or even to have an abortion, but you do not have to marry that man tomorrow. How's that?"
Rachael sank onto the cedar chest at the foot of the bed and stared at Shay. Her face had gone as pale as Grandma Bran's. "How did you know?"
"That's getting to be pretty standard for a night-before-the-wedding talk."
"Not when I was a girl. She ..." Rachael turned to the woman in the bed, who appeared to be sleeping, and dropped her voice, "she gave a talk on the birds and the bees."
"Wouldn't it be cool to know what her mother told her?" Shay laughed softly, switched off the light and sat beside Rachael. "Look, you're exhausted. I've tried to keep the wedding as simple as possible, but there's been a lot for you to do. There's your work and worrying about Grandma and the big dinner tonight."
"To which your husband-to-be didn't show."
"I told you about the bachelor party."
"He could've come to dinner and then gone to his party."
"What don't you like about Marek?"
"I don't dislike him. I don't even know him." Rachael stood and walked to the door. "It's just ... just that you don't love him."
Jerry Garrett collected the remaining glasses, carried them into the kitchen, where the dishwasher rinsed its second load of the evening. On his way back he struck a hipbone on a corner of the buffet in the hall.
"Damn thing doesn't belong in a hall anyway," he muttered to the house. But the dining room had two buffets already and no room for more. They all had some family history which Rachael could rattle off at a moment's notice. Both he and his daughter had tuned that out long ago.
He sat in the one comfortable chair the house could manage and surveyed the white-and-silver wedding bows on the glass-fronted antique cabinets whose shelves were lined with knickknacks and Rachael's cobalt-blue-glass collection. This room was too little even for the small ceremony to be held here in the morning. All cut up, with its many rooms overcrowded, the Gingerbread House was suited more for tiny fluttering old ladies like Bran than for full-grown males.
"I wondered where you were." Rachael glided in with a soft swish of her hostess gown and sat in the wooden platform rocker.
"I've had the strangest feeling all day." She glanced at the corners of the high ceiling.
"That's only natural." But he'd noticed it too. So had the dinner guests. His brothers-in-law hadn't bothered to tease each other. Ever since he'd carried that crappy old mirror down from the attic and gone to collect Bran from the nursing home, he'd had uneasy sensations in his middle. "Well, did you talk to her?"
"More like she talked to me." Rachael lit a cigarette, blew smoke at the chandelier. "She didn't admit to anything."
"Is she angry with us?"
"No. She just laughed in a nice ..." Her lips trembled and she took a deep breath. "A nice condescending way. Why, Jerry? Why?"
"She's just bored. I hear it's all the rage." He wanted to cross the room, hold her. But he didn't. "Just bored. She always has been. But Jesus, marriage. That's like jumping off a bridge to scratch an itch."
"And she's twenty years old. There's nothing we can do." Rachael stubbed out a half-smoked cigarette. "I suppose these days we should be relieved she's marrying, not just moving in with him." She stood and started for the doorway. "Mom didn't say any more, maybe it was just a ..."
Jerry was staring over the rim of his glass at the figurine of a shepherdess on the mantel, but his mind was seeing the willowy shape of his daughter, the long pale hair, the contrast of a summer's suntan, the sudden flashes of kinky wit that would light mischief in otherwise solemn, indifferent eyes ...
When someone screamed upstairs. When the figurine toppled, to crash against a bellows below. When the Gingerbread House shuddered to its gables with a strange explosive impact....
Shay sat beside her grandmother after Rachael left. The rain had stopped but wind still lashed leaves around the streetlight and shadow silhouettes flickered across the bed.
"Mother's hopelessly old-fashioned, Grandma Bran," Shay whispered to the sleeping form. "Love! I've got to make a change sometime."
A hand moved on the coverlet and lids lifted on faded eyes that looked through Shay. "Book," Grandma Bran said, the bed shuddering as her body joined the struggle to say more.
And again Shay had the sensation of being drawn out of herself. She slipped off the bed and rubbed bare arms. Hearing even two spoken words after years of silence made her skin crawl.
If mind and speech were returning, would it be a blessing for someone almost a hundred years old?
Mercifully, her grandmother subsided into sleep and Shay tiptoed out, crossing the hall to her own room, where the flowered carpeting and wallpaper continued from the hallways both upstairs and down. If she never saw another pink-and-red printed posy in her life, Shay vowed, it'd be too soon.
Rachael'd decorated this room "little girl pretty." The frills and flounces left small space for Shay and her belongings. And with her wedding gift sitting in the middle, it was almost too cramped for air. She leaned over stacks of L.P.'s that blocked the heat from the baseboard heater in winter and opened the window. Rain and wind had brought the clean pine scent down from the mountainsides.
Shay turned to inspect her wedding gift. "Yuk! I remember you now." Mother, I was fascinated by this monstrosity because it was so horrid, not because I liked it. She wondered what she and Marek would do with it.
A full-length glass with a ragged crack running diagonally across the top. The crack would always cut across her face unless she stood on her head. But the worst was the frame, bronze molded in the shape of hands, long, slender but masculine-looking hands that slithered and entwined about each other like snakes, and all with talon-like fingernails. The base was a pair of hands turned downward, the mirror's weight resting on the thumb, forefinger and little finger on each hand.
Just looking at the thing gave her the shudders. After slipping into filmy baby-doll pajamas, she lifted the veil Grandma Bran was said to have worn at her wedding from its perch on a lampshade and tried it on. Another of her mother's treasures. How could Shay see well enough through the lace to descend the staircase? She giggled at a vision of herself in a heap of satin and lace at the foot of the stairs, while embarrassed guests tried not to notice.
But she laughed aloud at her image in the wedding mirror. Even through the veil and the crack in the glass, her bare legs and straight hair dripping beneath the lace looked a comical mixture of time periods.
The harsh voice startled Shay as she lifted the veil to see her grandmother swaying in the doorway, her shapeless nightgown and milky skin ghostly against the darkness of the hall.
Grandma Bran's eyes were locked on the wedding mirror.
"Corbin!" the old lady screamed.
Goose bumps prickled on Shay's arms. "No, Grandma, it's a ..."
As their eyes met in the wedding mirror, the mirror began to hum. Waves in the glass undulated into the room on a sea of mist and swamped Shay in a sweating sickness. A cracking sound ripped the air with such force she was thrown to the floor. The carpet gave way beneath her and Shay fell in a blackedout world filled with an old woman's screams.CHAPTER 3
The screams ended. Shay thought some disaster, natural or otherwise, had befallen the Gingerbread House.
She rose through layers of silent black. Sickness heaved inside her.
She whirled in sweeping circles that stopped when she reached the hardness of floor. The web of the veil's lace lay in a jumble in front of her face. Shay pushed it away and gagged.
She lay on a floor of varnished boards that smelled of oil and dust. The carpet with its gay posies had disappeared.
Pulling her knees under her, Shay raised herself on her hands. No stacks of L.P.'s, no baseboard heater. Just a foot-high baseboard stained dark brown instead of white. She swayed and fell back to the floor.
Footsteps, excited voices in the hall ...
"Sounded like dynamite. But I don't see anything's been blown up."
"Help me," Shay tried to shout, but it came as a whimper.
Blackness threatened her again and she twisted on the slippery floor to find something solid to hold to stop the swirling. Her hand met a cold talon at the base of the wedding mirror.
"What's wrong with her?" The voices were in the room now.
"She must have fainted. You men go check the rest of the house. I'll unlace her. Brandy?"
"Just some water please." Shay felt a loosening around her ribs that allowed her to breathe deeply. "What's happening?"
"I don't know. Knocked pictures off the walls and broke dishes, but we can't find what or where it exploded. Here, I'll take out your hair."
Excerpted from The Mirror by Marlys Millhiser. Copyright © 1978 Marlys Millhiser. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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
I have the original book and have read it so many times it is about to fall apart. The author clearly illustrates the problems of a modern woman learning to exist in an earlier time. She makes the past come alive. Then, the author skillfully places a woman from the past in modern times and addresses the question we have all had... I wonder what our grandparents would think if they could see things as they are now. I highly recommend it.
Love the timeline reads, reincarnation and time travel.
I read this book about 30 years ago and just remembered it and just had to read it again. It is so good and gives such insight to past generations. Who hasn't wondered what it was like back in our grandparents days, I personally would love to visit back in time and with this book you do. Might be hard for some to keep up with the switching back and forth but it is worth the time to read it. I just ordered a copy of the book to keep so I can read when ever I want, except the print is small and very light. They need to make a dark large print so that I will be able to read it 20 years from now.
I read this book almost 32 years ago. It was a pick from my book club. I loved it so much I named my next daughter "Shay".
The Mirror has been at the top of my list since the first reading in 1978. I have lost count of how many times I have read it since. I never tire of the story of these two remarkable women. I have bought it as gifts and will recommend it to my grandaughters when they are old enough to read it. I only wish there were more stories in this vein, as well written and hard to put down. I LOVE IT!
This book has been my all time favorite for many years. I first read it in the early 70's and have re-read it many times since. It's a book that is very difficult to put down and I wish there had been a series of books referencing the mirror.
A few months ago I went camping with my wife and kids. As we sat around the campfire...my daughter asked for a story. My daugher is nine and my son is 7. I really couldn't think of any stories I really wanted to tell. I don't know what made me think of it...but...I thought of The Mirror. I read the book as a young teenager over 25 years ago. My mother and sisters had read it so eventually it made its way to me. My kids were absolutely mesmerized by the story. Each night after that they asked for more details. My memory isn't the greatest and many of the particulars of the story escaped me until I started telling it. It's amazing how much of the story I actually remembered. More recently my daughter has asked if I could find her the book and I'm very happy to see it's available online. I think I know what she's getting for Christmas.
The Mirror is a clever story about two women- Shay and her grandmother Brandy- not only exchanging bodies thanks to an evil heirloom mirror- but time periods too. Shay finds herself in her grandmother's body in 1900, and Brandy in Shay's body in the future. How both women cope with their predicament is what makes the story interesting, as is the interspersed story of Rachel, Shay's mother and Brandy's daughter. The characters seem real, and the story moves forward in a logical fashion without confusing the reader. I would have given the novel five stars instead of four if the ending had been a little stronger and more definitive. Also try An Audience for Einstein, another very clever novel about personality transfer.
Having met the author of this classic bit of the macabre at a 'mystery authors night' in Colorado where I was promoting my own historical murder mystery (The Legacy, Savage Press, 2000), I had to buy a copy from Ms. Millhiser. It's interesting that her book is really three seperate stories interwoven as a complete novel. It's a device that I used, wholly intentionally, in my debut book as well. I would have given the book 5 stars if the first portion was as captivating and compelling as the last. The historical accuracy ingrained in the initial story seemed to get in the way of the power of the plot and the power of the mirror. That is corrected with gusto in the concluding chapters turning a well-written but slightly dull story into a very fine read. The ending is perfect. Enough said. A well done treasure from the Rocky Mountains that should endure.
This is at least as good as Jack Finney's classic Time and Again, which I just read again prior to this. It's very cleverly plotted, very convincing and real. An under-appreciated classic. If you like time travel stories, don't miss it!
Protagonists: Shay Garrett and Brandy McCabeSetting: Boulder, Colorado in 1900 and 1978SciFi/Time TravelIt's 1978 in Boulder, Colorado, and Shay Garrett finds herself on the eve ofher wedding. After looking into an ugly heirloom mirror, Shay passes out andwakes up in her bedroom, but it's 1900 and she's not Shay anymore, she'sBrandy McCabe--her grandmother. It is the eve of Brandy's wedding. Rumor intown has it that Brandy is crazy, so when she begins to act even crazierthan usual, it's chalked up to her past behavior...and an attempt to get outof the marriage being forced upon her by her father. Going through with themarriage, Shay moves with her husband to a small town up in the mountainsoutside Boulder, keeping the mirror with her so she can keep trying to getback to her own life.The book has three main sections: Shay living Brandy's life, Brandy livingas Shay, and Rachel who's the mother of Shay and the daughter of Brandy. Alot of research went into this book--the history of Boulder, the ins andouts of the characters' genealogy, and the time periods. Even the portrayalof that blasted mirror is well-done and creepy. I found this to be apage-turner!
An imaginative story that really grabs you. Great use of time travel. The author includes the details of daily life in each time period that add interest and authenticity to her tale. A great read.
I loved this book! I was thinking I might not like it as I read the first few pages, then I got sucked right in and could hardly put it down. A young lady looks into an antique mirror on her wedding day and goes back in time into her grandmother's body on her wedding day years before. The book first tells the story of the granddaughter as she travels back in time, then tells the story from her daughter's point of view, then finally tells the story of the grandmother as she travels forward in time to live her granddaughter's life. This is just the type of book that has interested me lately, so this one did not disappoint me. I only wish there were more of this type from the same author.
I loved this book it kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time .
Have read this book or one just like it about 20 years ago. Am glad i found it.
Read and re-read many times. Just wish there was more!
The Mirror by Marlys Millhiser is an interesting novel. Shay Garrett is twenty years old in 1978 and it is the night before her wedding to Marek Weir. Her mother is giving her an ugly old mirror as a wedding gift. The frame is composed of hands with finger nails shaped like talons. It is in her bedroom of her family’s home The Gingerbread House in Boulder, Colorado. Shay is looking in the mirror when she hears a humming noise. She remembers mist and blackness and then nothing. Shay wakes up in the same bedroom, but it is different. It is 1900 and they keep calling her Brandy. Shay is in her grandmother’s body. Brandy is also twenty and being forced by her father, John McCabe to marry the next day (everyone thinks she is crazy because of things she saw in the mirror). Shay finds herself stuck in Brandy’s body despite attempts to get back to her own body and time. Shay makes the best of her situation and lives a full life (it helps that she knows things that are going to happen). She does, though, keep a diary of all her adventures while in Brandy’s body. When baby Shay is born, she wraps up the diary and puts a note on it. It is to be given to Shay on the day of her wedding. Rachel, Shay’s mother, puts it away and forgets about it. Brandy was going to run away the night before her forced marriage when the mirror takes her to 1978. She finds herself in Shay’s body and her grandmother dead on the floor in her bedroom. The grandmother is Shay in Brandy’s body (it can get a little confusing at times). Brandy does not understand this new time period. She feels that everyone is not dressed appropriately. Brandy retreats into herself and waits for Shay to figure out the mirror. Her family thinks something is wrong with her and are contemplating putting her in a mental asylum (real caring family). After sleeping so much, her family calls in a doctor. Brandy is pregnant (and shocked since she is a virgin). When her family talks about an abortion, Brandy runs away. Luckily for Brandy she is taken in by a nice, eccentric, elderly man. He helps her to stay hidden from her family. When The Gingerbread House is robbed, the diary is found. Rachel ends up reading it and finally understands what happened to her daughter. It also explains a lot about her mother. You will have to read The Mirror to find out what happens! I have to admit that I put off reading this novel because it was so very long. But once I started reading it, I could not put it down. A little over half of the book is taken up with Shay’s story (with her in Brandy’s body). We then get to find out what happens to Brandy in Shay’s body. I truly enjoyed this book. The only thing I did not like was Brandy in Shay’s body. She made no attempt to read books and understand the time period she was in (or her new life). She acted like some fragile woman with no brain (it was insulting). Otherwise, this was a great book to read. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. It is well-written and I loved the plot. The writer even left it so there could be more books as the mirror continues on with its adventure. I received a complimentary copy of The Mirror from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The review and opinions expressed are my own.
I absolutely loved this book, I had it years ago and have read it at least 6 or 7 times, I loved the visions of how she lived in the past, it was just a really great book. everyone I ever lent it to always wanted to keep it. Great story, Loved it.
I first read this 20 years ago when my grandmother said, "read this, its great.". I read it one sitting. I have been waiting for nook to release it. Made my day! Best book ever... its wonderful... I could read it over and over.
(I received a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.) This reprint (manner of speaking) of a 1978 novel was definitely interesting to read, although I confess not having paid enough attention at first when it came to the original publishing date... and was confused in the beginning. But that's not fault of the book's, only mine. The story weaves the lives of Shay and Brandy, the first being the latter's granddaughter. A mysterious mirrors switches their minds in time, forcing Shay to live as Brandy in 1900, and Brandy as Shay in 1978. Of course, each of them has to face a world they don't understand: Shay as a "proper" bride-to-be whose mind and manners are way too open for the people around her, and Brandy as a young woman in a society way too liberated, compared to what she used to know. As daily challenges pile one after the other, managing their families not being the least of them, both react and adapt differently. I admit I was more interested in Shay's role, narrated in parts 1 and 2. Brandy seemed more passive—in keeping with her education, probably, but it made her walk in Shay's shadow almost all the time, so to speak. Compared to her granddaughter, she had more trouble adjusting. On the other hand, Shay had history to rely on, to help prove the people around her that she wasn't just crazy and indeed knew of some future events. I wasn't convinced the first time she admitted being another person in Brandy's body, thinking "is she stupid? She's going to get committed in no time!" However, it also made me wonder how would anyone react in such a situation. Trying to act the part can only take you so far, after all. Other ideas are explored as well, especially the chicken-and-egg matter of not knowing if you have to simply reenact a past already "written" in order to end up existing, or if your very presence if this past is now threatening everything, and you don't know what actions are going to make it work, or on the other hand destroy everything. Shay had to use the little knowledge she had of her family (her parents had her a little late in life, and she hadn't known some of the characters she then encounters as Brandy) in order to piece everything together—and it wasn't always easy, for instance when she realised the guy she had to marry wasn't her grandfather, thus wondering what it'd lead to, and how/if history would right itself. Another point raised here: Shay's control over her family's life. It made her appear as overbearing, always knowing what would happen, who the children would marry, etc., prompting them in turn to do things differently just to prove her wrong... yet history still righted itself at some point. It was hard to tell whether Shay was trying to control everything, or saying what she knew because, well, she knew it, and it escaped her lips from time to time. Keeping such a secret for so long sure must be hard. It's a bit too bad that Brandy's part felt definitely weaker. From the way young Brandy was presented at first, in the accounts of the McCabes, she seemed more resourceful and rebellious (for a 1900 girl, that is); but the Brandy shown in the third part of the novel was too often silent, retreating into herself, and I couldn't find here the person who was supposed to be curious. Although that was the culture shock speaking, I thought she could've made more of an effort, instead of waiting on Shay to solve the problem on her end. Her story was also more removed from that of her family's, so while Shay's part appeared as more involved, Brandy's left less room to focus on the dynamics among the Garretts. Too bad, as the novel explores parents/children relationships as well as time travel. Another thing I regretted not reading more about: the mirror itself. Part 3 of the novel introduces a theft, yet nothing was really resolved there. For the whole book, it's presented as some kind of cursed artifact, and it would've been nice I liked the depictions of daily life in 1900, as Shay tries to adapt. However, the writing itself was too often descriptive as well, telling more than showing what happened. Overall, a good enough time travel story (that didn't forget to play on the theme of paradox in its own way, a.k.a. the stroke and death), yet one that seemed to lose interest for itself towards the end (Brandy's part). 3/3.5 stars (I liked the beginning much more than the end).
One of the best books I have ever read. I read it for the first time over 20 years ago and loved it. It was my first entry into time travel. I have reread it many times since and have several copies of the book. I never want to be without it in my library. Get this book, you will not be sorry!
I bought this book in the 70's and read it annually. My hard copy was borrowed and never returned and my paperback is worn by years of reading. I just found it in ebook and read it again today. I love this book more then I can express, get lost in it every time. I am there with Shay and Brandy and can envision their lives as if real. I can see the old shack and the ranch and the gingerbread house in my mind! What a great writer and storyteller. Thank you so much for sharing this story with us.
Back in the 1980's I checked this book out from the local library and it made such an impression on me that I took my oldest daughter, then a teenager, back to get the book again and I couldn't believe my luck! Looking in a shelf of books for sale was the book! I snapped up the hardbook & paid my quarter! My daughter loved it too and I still reread it to this day, 30 + years later.