The Turning Circle

Jill Slee Blackadder is compelled by a novel with a strong Quaker thread

Janni first saw Alice when she was eight, but only briefly: ‘even as she looked, the girl began to look transparent, like a projected picture and then she faded away entirely’. Janni is a child of our time but Alice, who becomes her only real friend, lived in the same house three hundred years before.

Biddy Vousden’s The Turning Circle, her first book, is a gem. Set in a Fenland village, she weaves themes of loneliness, adolescence, adjusting to change, friendship and family life simultaneously into two vastly different historical periods – our own and that of the dissenters – in the fraught decades of religious oppression from which the pilgrim fathers sought release.

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