Can I Get There by Candlelight? by Jean Slaughter DotyHow many miles to Babylon?
Three score miles and ten.
Can I get there by candlelight?
Yes, and back again.
If your heels are nimble and light,
You can get there by candlelight.
-- Mother Goose
I think I was about 7 or 8 when I first got this book. I know of got it second hand, but Im not 100% sure where it came from or who gave it to me. All I know for certain is that I instantly fell in love with it. You know those books that just grab you completely, and you know its special before youve even started it? Theres a magical quality to them and they insist you have them? This was one of those.
I suppose part of it is the cover - how can a horse crazy kid resist that picture (Its by Lydia Rosier by the way) or the intriguing title that seemed much more unusual than your typical horse riding story title. And this book is rather unusual - yes it has a girl (Gail) and she has a pony, Candy. It starts like many pony stories, with a ride in the woods*. Gail takes Candy or Candlelight which is her full name, through an old gate and through the woods, where they emerge on the lawn of an enormous house, with a girl called Hilary, wearing an old-fashioned dress, accompanied by her little white dog Nanette.
The house (estate?) is called Babylon, and somehow riding Candy through that gate takes Gail about 100 years back in time. She spends her summer afternoons in the past with Hilary, learning how to ride side saddle and using Hilarys pony cart. They become firm friends and its enchanting to read.
Its a beautiful story with an ominous undertone that I found completely captivating when I first read it. I felt like I was there with Gail and Hilary, I could smell the honeysuckle and taste the lemonade and teacakes. It was a completely absorbing reading experience and Ive read it over and over again.
I enjoyed it just as much on this reading and expect Ill be returning to it again many more times. Its a short book, you can easily read it in one or two sittings and just get lost in it for a little while.
Two things to note - it is a childrens story, and while an adult could certainly enjoy it, if books aimed at younger readers arent for you, you probably arent compatible with this.
Also, if you buy this off Book Depository (and possibly other websites, though I havent checked) they give away the dramatic ending of the book, though slightly inaccurately, since the actual story is more open ended than their description. This might not be an issue for many, but if you dont like spoilers, stick the Goodreads description and just avoid the description if Book Depository is somewhere youre considering purchasing from (they do have it at a great price)!
*More accurately, it starts with the opening of an old a trunk. The ride begins in chapter two.
Can I Get There by Candlelight?
Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book. From the cover I expected a horse story, but didn't really get that. There was a pony, but not much talk of relationship with it. From the description I expected a time travel story, and while she did communicate with someone from the past there was no connection to the present or sense of being in another time and place. Seemed more like an imaginary friend than a real adventure.
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I read this book as a child and loved it. I don't even remember where the book came from. I am nearly 40 and decided to reminisce my childhood amd purchased.
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WOW, I'm so amazed you found this book! It was probably the first book I'd ever read with an ambiguous ending like that. It really freaked me out, and made me think-- like, maybe in real life there ARE things you will never know about what happened to people you knew once, or whatever. I think it's funny that you mention the horse-loving thing. I was one of the few girls in the history of the world who did NOT love horse books, to the point of scorning them.