The Bookish Time Travel Tag


I was not tagged, but I noticed this and wanted to participate on a delicious walk through my many ages.  I first read this literary meme in the wonderful blogs of Sandra at and Jane at  Their responses are worthier than my own.

1.What is your favourite historical setting for a book?

englishlitqueenvictoriaThe Victorian period is the best for me by far.  Trollope!  Dickens!  George Eliot!  The Brownings! Hopkins!   Tennyson!  Swinburne!   Thomas Hardy!  Matthew Arnold.  Walter Pater.  George Meredith.  William Morris.  The Rossettis!  A touch of Gaskell, Gissing, and WS Gilbert.

2.  What writer/s would you like to travel back in time to meet?

I am simply rubbish at naming favorites when often 9 or 10 authors seem to have an equal claim on my affections.  I would not mind having a drink with Shakespeare or being at the Atheneam Club in London listening to Trollope and Thackeray.atheneaumlibraryclub

3.  What book/s would you travel back in time and give to your younger self?

I wish that I had read EM Forster when I was younger.  But my younger self was  such a naïve reader.  I recall thinking that Angel Clare was certainly acting with the best of propriety when I read Tess of the Durbervilles at age 15.  I also know that when I first read Mark Twain I was oblivious to the humour.    And I recall thinking that Causabon was intellectually more adventurous than Will Ladislaw.    Happily I have never permitted my pre-conceptions to allow me to avoid rereading.  I needed to read Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie earlier than I found them.

My biggest regret is that I read my first Barbara Pym book and was inspired to write her a fan letter of unadulterated enthusiasm, but finally discovered that she had died only a few months previously.  I wish I had known about her while she lived.



4.What book/s would you travel forward in time and give to your older self?

There are many.  I have a book collection that will last me until I am 5000 years old.  I have to remind myself that when I am dead I will not be chastising myself for not having reread all of Elizabeth Taylor or Barbara Pym yet one more time.  And I hope I will always remember why I slept with a copy of 11 Kinds of Loneliness by Richard Yates when I was 15 and 16.



5.What is your favourite futuristic setting from a book?

I am not sure what that means, really.  I know at the end of Pride and Prejudice and of Middlemarch we are given glimpses of the future.

6.What is your favourite book that is set in a different time period (can be historical or futuristic)?

Let me begin with Jane Austen, who did not make it to the Victorian period.  Any of her novels will do. 

7.Spoiler Time: Do you ever skip ahead to the end of a book just to see what happens?

No, I really don’t.  Sometimes I check to see how many pages there are but I don’t read anything on the last page.

8.If you had a Time Turner, where would you go and what would you do?

I would not want to interfere with anything but I would love to be on the periphery of a party given by Lady Glencora Palliser and her husband.  I want to meet Mildred from Barbara Pym’s Excellent Women and have some tea and maybe a repast of cauliflower cheese.   But yes!  I do want to interfere.  I would like to be an invisible presence by the side of Mrs. Bridge as she goes to vote and tell her that she should follow her impulses and not the law of her husband.  I’d like to encourage Simon when he makes his cassoulet in A Fairly Honourable Defeat.  I’d like to sort out the cat, Lady Jane, in Bleak House and provide her with food and affection.  I’d like to warn King Lear that daughters named Cordelia are the best.  I’d like to tell Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern to disavow the King and his summons.  I’d like to befriend Mrs. Palfrey and take her out to tea.  I’d like to befriend John Keats and take him out for a substantial meal!  I would love to have a heart to heart about successful banter with Stevens from Remains of the Day.   And I am certainly ready to share a po-di-mu with Lucia and admire Georgino’s bibelots.  I would love to stroll down a Baltimore street with Anne Tyler and listen to her comments.


And in my personal time, I regret that I carefully read all of the Nancy Drew books and wrote down all the clues to the location of River Heights, where Nancy lived.  I went to the reference room at the local library and tried to pinpoint the location and realized that, as a sad reseach librarian aged 8, River Heights was a myth:  a snare and a delusion.  I wish I had not been so literal minded at that age.


9.Favourite book (if you have one) that includes time travel or takes place in multiple time periods?

Mrs. Bridge by Evan Connell goes perhaps from the 1890s until the 1940s.  That book is such a master class in reading and writing.

  1. What book/series do you wish you could go back and read again for the first time?

I wish I could experience the magic of reading the Betsy, Tacy, and Tib series by Maud Hart Lovelace.  I was 6 and I was bored with the superficiality of the problems facing the Bobbsey Twins and Dick, Jane, and Sally.   Betsy, Tacy, and Tib had some impulses that were imaginative and sometimes a little bit bad.  I used to close my eyes tight and try to imagine myself right into one of the illustrations so I would become a fourth little girl, interested in Syrian immigrants, royalty, and the wondrous city of Milwaukee.betsytacytib

The first Beverly Cleary book I read was Ellen Tibbits.   How vividly I recall Ellen’s struggle with an entrenched beet!  (And beets are rather hard!).  I went on to enjoy the Ramona books, but I was always Beezus.  As the oldest of 6 children born in 7 years, my life was full of little Ramonas.ellentebbits

Sherlock Holmes was a magnificent revelation after Nancy Drew became simply risible and once I found Agatha Christie, I was a happy reader indeed.


I am new to the world of bloggers, so I will not tag anyone.

Author: Gubbinal

Bookish, tea-drinking cat-lady who loves great poetry and music and is in the midst of dying

5 thoughts on “The Bookish Time Travel Tag”

  1. I very nearly tagged you for this, but I wasn’t sure this would be your cup of tea since your blog is about poetry. I’m so glad you went ahead and answered it. Reading your post is like a delightful trip through literary history and childhood at the same time.

    As a childhood Nancy Drew fan, I admire your detective work in trying to track down River Heights. No regrets! 🙂


  2. Thank you, Ms Arachne! I appreciate the Nancy Drew sisterhood: there are so many great things about reading/having read Nancy Drew. She was my primer on testing reality vs fiction. I recalled that Nancy fully mastered the bagpipes in 10 minutes, that she learned obscure languages in 20 minutes, and that there were no obstacles to her going anywhere in her roadster. Nancy taught me to appreciate lesser characters too. I was most certainly a Bess Marvin and had to admit it. Now, decades later, I remain a Bess. Nancy Drew made me a sceptical, ironic, yet devoted reader of fiction in general . I still like mysteries very much; I tend to write more about poetry because I am still in the midst of trying to come to terms with poetry and push my understanding of it forward, inch by inch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your research is impressive. I remember enjoying how smart Nancy was and the way she and her friends had such great adventures and misadventures while on the case. I’m still a mystery fan, too.

      I always find your poetry posts illuminating, even when I’m not yet familiar with the poet.


  3. Natalie, I love these answers; I’m so glad you have joined in! Oh, those Victorians! Some old favourites – and some names that are new to me (and have been squirrelled away). I’m also now alert to Richard Yates, and to Mrs Bridge, which sounds a wonderful novel. And perhaps if we both worked on Stevens, Ishiguro’s book might have a different ending!

    The image of you diligently researching Nancy Drew made me smile, even if it was a disappointment for you. And I’m mightily impressed: I am the oldest of 4 (girls) born in 4 years; to the oldest of 6 in 7 sounds very daunting!


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