I actually read this book when I was a young teen and I have to admit I was only reading it because there was nothing else to read in the house and the telly was on the blink. I absolutely loved it from beginning to end. This is a time-travel story with a bit of a twist.
Charlotte Makepeace is a new girl at an old boarding school. On her first night she goes to sleep in her bed and in the morning she wakes up as Clare Moby, a schoolgirl from over forty years ago. Of course Charlotte is confused, even more so when people don't realise that she is not Clare, not even Clare's younger sister Emily. Somehow she struggles through her first day as Clare but to add to her confusion she finds herself back in her own time the following day and no one has missed her! Charlotte soon realises that Clare is taking her place in her time and she is taking Clare's. The two girls muddle through by communicating through Clare's diary, leaving each other notes and messages in order for them to survive in their swap-over worlds.
However it's not long before Clare's younger sister Emily realises that something is wrong and Charlotte is forced to tell her the truth. With Emily as an ally, Charlotte's time in the past is a little easier but there is a dark cloud on the horizon. Clare and Emily are going into lodgings outside the school and the children have worked out that the time travelling that they are experiencing has something to do with the bed they sleep in and the tree outside the window which exists only in Clare's time.
This is an exciting story that moves at a fair pace, even more so when Charlotte is trapped in the past, forced to become a day pupil and temporarily forfeit her real life in the future. Charlotte's identity is soon in question even to herself. Is she Charlotte or is she Clare? Only Emily constant nagging about trying to get the real Clare back keeps the young girl aware of whom she really is.
Charlotte experiences life in England during the First World War. What once was history for her becomes the present, and she suffers with her new friends, as they loose loved ones to foreign battlefields, and face the terror of air raids in the middle of the night.
Charlotte's eventual permanent return to the future is not without its own problems but luckily Clare had her own ally in the form of Elizabeth, a dorm mate who like Emily realised that Clare was not Charlotte and helped her as best she could.
Charlotte's return to the future is not with out a tragic price. Clare, Charlotte finds out died not long after her return to the past, from flu and for a while Charlotte is grief stricken. However redemption comes in the form of a parcel of memories from a now grown up Emily who has waited many years to contact her sister's fellow time traveller in the future.
"Charlotte Sometimes" is a surprisingly dark children's novel with flashes colour and inspiration as two young girls live lives that are not their own. It is a poignant story about the loss of those we love and how we have to carry on no matter what. A surprisingly mature book that can be read by both older children and young adults alike.