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Stranded by Rosalind Tate

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“Stranded” is an absolutely outstanding book. It’s time travel with a twist: the characters are flung back to England in 1925, but it’s not quite the same 1925 as their world. Without revealing too much, major events haven’t happened and the world is quite different as a result. Some of the differences are quite poignant: Anastasia Romanov is mentioned as having emigrated to the UK and married an English lord, which makes you really think: “what if?”

The central characters, Sophie and Hugo, are very well drawn and there’s plenty of romantic tension. This novel is the first in a series (at least one more novel is planned) so we don’t yet get a romantic resolution. But the romance takes second place to the mystery anyway: why did the characters end up in the past, what is the mystery of “the lift”, and how can they get back?

Readers who enjoyed the TV series Lost in Austen (Pride & Prejudice portal romance) should very much enjoy “Stranded”. I was also reminded of the Doctor Who episode “Weeping Angels”, where the heroine’s friend gets flung back to the past and has to stay there, living a very different life than she might otherwise have done. I’ve always wondered what that must have been like, and Anne’s story in “Stranded” is one exploration.

There are elements of 1925 England that seem anachronistic (chamber pots/no guest lavatory in a grand country house?) and some of the social mores seemed more Victorian, even Regency, than Edwardian. The servants of Shorten Manor in particular seemed remarkably moralistic and judgmental about their employers (and not afraid to show it). But of course without certain events taking place, perhaps this is intentional. Parallel-universe-England-1925 hasn’t quite been given the kick into modernity that our universe has.

I’m now desperate to read the sequel and find out more about the mystery, and if the central characters do find romance.