Sun Slower, Sun Faster

Book cover: 'Sun Slower, Sun Faster'
Meriol Trevor
Bethlehem Books
Number of pages: 
290 pages
Grade / Age level: 

Thirteen-year-old Cecelia Morne was staying at Welston Manor for a time (not long after World War II ended) while her parents were out of the country. This family estate in the countryside near Bristol, England, was owned by her uncle, Ambrose Morne. Ambrose had a great-nephew, Richard, who was also staying there. Cecelia ("Cecil") soon become good friends with Rickie and his tutor, Dominic. One day Dominic showed Cecil and Rickie a small room hidden in a wall of the old manor. A little later, the two children entered the room. It had a door on each wall. As a game, Cecil and Rickie spun each other around and opened one of the doors. They were surprised to find themselves in Victorian times - but still in the same house, and dressed appropriately.

During the course of their visit to Welston, the children make frequent visits to the past - each one a little further back in history. Although each visit is rather short, the details of the story are quite interesting - the kinds of names used, the way people speak and dress, and other historical details about specific places and events. On the whole, it is a fun and suspenseful adventure story that whets the appetite for further research into history.

A number of topic threads run through the story (including interesting details of the ups and downs of life around Bristol since Roman times); but the most significant thread is that of the Catholic Church and, more specifically, the Holy Mass. Cecil and Rickie meet priests on the run during Elizabethan times and under the persecution of the Romans and also get a taste of life when the Catholic faith was status quo. The story contains many beautiful explanations of various parts of the Faith in an accessible fashion. During the course of the story, both children come to appreciate and embrace the Catholic faith. The reader is also left with the sense that every age struggles with its particular evils and vices, but good and truth endures by the grace of God and the courage and faith of good people.

The story does contain some criticisms of the Catholic Church - both by a few characters in the story who don't know better and some experiences of the children in their travels. One scene in particular might be a little disturbing: the children come upon a Franciscan friar with a flirtatious girl on his lap (The word they use is "sluttish"- parents today might consider this an inappropriate word, but I think the connotations were slightly different 50 years ago in England. Also, this is an obscure word for children and the concept might go over their heads.). This scene is followed up later in the story by a wonderful explanation of the struggles of the Church and religious orders and how they both tend to be stronger during times of persecution than during "easy times." My daughter, who was reading the book alongside me, didn't notice the particular reference, but did understand the overall concept within the story of the presence of fallen nature within Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Although I do think it very important for children to be exposed to some of the evils that have made their way into the Church over the centuries (I might even call it "inoculation"), I believe this book will be most appropriate for children ages 12 and up for independent reading, but suitable for younger children as a read-aloud. Appropriateness will vary according to the thoughtfulness of the child and how well-read they are on historic matters. It is important to note that this aspect of the book is not a weakness in any sense - just a somewhat mature topic. The story is much more meaningful and the conversions are much more complete and believable because a fuller picture of life, the Church and human nature is presented.

Some of the geographical terms might be a little unfamiliar to American children, but my 11 year old daughter (who was familiar with some terms and places from sources such as Pride and Prejudice and Rick Steve's Travel Shows) really enjoyed reading the book and now considers it one of her favorites.

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