Tilly pulled the mesh faceguard down and limbered up her right wrist, circling it nervously, her long, thin fencing foil drawing through the air. She was dressed all in white, with padding to protect her chest and padded gloves on her hands. She jigged up and down, adrenaline surging through her body.
Tilly lifted the foil in front of her face in a formal salute to her opponent on the other side of the narrow mat.
The foils flashed forward into the defensive position.’
‘Allez!’ The two fencers leapt forward, foils slashing. Tilly felt her hot, seething thoughts turn cold and hard as steel.
Tilly is struggling to cope with her parents marriage breakdown. She’s angry and bitter and not particularly nice to be near. When her mother takes a weekend break, Tilly stays with her aunt, Kara. Although Tilly loves her aunt, she’s not happy she’s being dumped with her for the weekend. Then Kara shows her a fabulous ruby necklace, first worn by one of their ancestors, Amelie-Mathilde, a young French aristocrat. Kara relates Amelie’s almost miraculous escape from the French court as the French revolution begins. Tilly’s dreams about her ancestor then wakes up next to her. Amelie is wearing the ruby necklace too. In a world very different to her own, with civil war erupting all around them, Tilly must think clearly and quickly if she is to help Amelie and her cousin to survive.
Tilly’s having a tough time and she has no room for the feelings of others around her. Even her friends are finding her too prickly to be any fun. She’s locked in her own world, her own suffering, and blind to the suffering of anyone else. When she is transported to the 18th century, she slowly begins to realise that others have their own problems. Her experience in the past allows her to understand her present and to look forward to the future. The ruby necklace connects past and present allowing two teenage girls to connect and understand their similarities and differences. The Ruby Talisman gently points out that the world is bigger than any one person and it’s helpful to look beyond your own experience if you are to take your place in it. Recommended for mid- secondary readers.
The Ruby Talisman, Belinda Murrell
Random House Australia 2010
Reviewed by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author www.clairesaxby.com
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