The Seventh Miss Hatfield by Anna Caltabiano
“Rebecca, a 15-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, Rebecca 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, Rebecca 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, Rebecca 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, Rebecca 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?”
“The Seventh Miss Hatfield” has a unique voice and distinctive style that you don’t come across everyday. I found the book to be very bitter-sweet. It reminded me of the point in a young persons life when they are required to take that step into adulthood and decide what they want to do with their life. It is an impossible situation when they don’t even know who they are or what they are capable of yet. To me the book was an allegory of losing ones childhood and Anna Caltabiano does it beautifully.
“The Seventh Miss Hatfield” is as enchanting as Harry Potter and has a rich adventure laden plot. It will make you laugh and cry, often at the same time. The book is written through the eyes of a 15 year old girl and it does a young adult tone to it but make no mistake, the emotional depth is one of maturity.
I can’t remember the last time I have read a book so innovative and remarkable. Once I started to read I could not put it down. I am a huge time-travelling fan and I completely enjoyed this book cover to cover. I can highly recommend it. If you are looking for something a bit different, then this is the book for you.
Now an exclusive interview with the author:
Elder Park Books:
In my review I stated that for me the book symbolized the loss of youth and the turning point from childhood to adulthood. Was that the message you had intended for this book?
Anna Caltabiano: When I write, I don’t start with a theme and build a story around my intended theme. With The 7th Miss Hatfield, I started with a few characters—Henley and Rebecca—and then built a story around them. The theme really grew out of the interaction of the story with the development and growth of the characters. The transition to adulthood is often difficult and traumatic, but we all survive it.
EPBR: What is next?
AC: I’m currently working on the sequel to The Seventh Miss Hatfield. It’s a different experience to revisit characters you’ve worked with for over a year already. I plan to continue writing and exploring topics I find important to discuss.
EPBR: How much of you is in Rebecca?
AC: None of the characters are autobiographical. I try to create characters who are realistic and have their own stories and character. I certainly never consciously intend for any character to represent me, but I am sure that my own dreams, fears, and experiences cannot help but be somewhere in my characters. Even now, when I reread certain passages, I sometimes ask myself where did that come from?