I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Seventh Miss Hatfield by Anna Caltabiano
Series: Seventh Miss Hatfield #1
Published by Gollancz on July 17, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
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Cynthia, an 11-year-old American, isn't entirely happy with her life, comfortable though it is. Still, even she knows that she shouldn't talk to strangers. So when her mysterious neighbour Miss Hatfield asked her in for a chat and a drink, Cynthia wasn't entirely sure why she said yes. It was a decision that was to change everything.
For Miss Hatfield is immortal. And now, thanks to a drop of water from the Fountain of Youth, Cynthia is as well. But this gift might be more of a curse, and it comes with a price. Rebecca is beginning to lose her personality, to take on the aspects of her neighbour. She is becoming the next Miss Hatfield.
But before the process goes too far, Cynthia must travel back in time to turn-of-the-century New York and steal a painting, a picture which might provide a clue to the whereabouts of the source of immortality. A clue which must remain hidden from the world. In order to retrieve the painting, Cynthia must infiltrate a wealthy household, learn more about the head of the family, and find an opportunity to escape. Before her journey is through, she will also have - rather reluctantly - fallen in love. But how can she stay with the boy she cares for, when she must return to her own time before her time-travelling has a fatal effect on her body? And would she rather stay and die in love, or leave and live alone?
And who is the mysterious stranger who shadows her from place to place? A hunter for the secret of immortality - or someone who has already found it?
May I say that for someone who is seventeen, and for The Seventh Miss Hatfield to be her début novel, this is an extremely impressive read. Anna is someone who I will keep my eye on as she grows and flourishes as a writer. Even if I had a vague talent for writing I doubt I would have been able to have written anything as good as this book. As Rebecca changes in the story, so does the writing.
The first chapter of the book was intriguing. Who was the mysterious woman? Why was the painting so important? And what secrets are waiting to be told? Rebecca, the soon to be, new Miss Hatfield must retrieve this mysterious painting.
But obstacles get in her way. The first is that it is not easy getting access to the painting. But along the way Rebecca meets a dashing young man – Henley. And it her relationship with him that is the main focus of the story. There is less focus on the immortality/time travelling bit. I have to be honest having read the book I am still not entirely sure how the time travelling thing works. But Miss Hatfield plays the mothering role and is there to stop Rebecca from going to far of course. She is there as a guide and as someone who can correct any mistakes made.
My one problem with this book is that it was written for a younger audience than me. Which is not the author’s intentions. But if you are between the ages of 12-16 this book is perfect for you.
The Seventh Miss Hatfield has a bitter-sweet story. It is about lost childhood, of growing up and missed opportunities. Rebecca has changed, perhaps for the better, perhaps not. But with that change she has become limited. Can she ever accept this change? And how much of herself will she retain?
How often have we wished we were something else? To be more beautiful? Be be more clever? Think how different our lives could have been if these wishes had come true. But really would you want your life to be any different?