Market Blues

I picked up Kirsty Murray's 2001 novel, Market Blues, a long time ago, but for some reason I hadn't got around to reading it until now (next month's theme for the Convent book club is Timey-Wimey).

Sam Sullivan is a twelve year old who's always in strife. His parents have split up and he's not happy about it, money is tight, and his sister has turned into a goth alien. The only thing that brings him joy is his trumpet, and it's playing the trumpet one day at the Victoria Market that catapults Sam back in time a hundred years into a very different world. Even if he manages to find his way home to his own time, how can he solve his problems?

Market Blues has all the virtues you'd expect from a Kirsty Murray story -- it's action packed, fast moving and carefully researched, painting a vivid portrait of Melbourne in 1900, complete with gangs of street arabs and newsboys, grinding poverty and a rich and varied street life, a city that's both familiar and strange. Sam's dilemmas are beautifully mirrored in the two streams of time, and an unexpected family tie draws him back with a sense of responsibility to try to put things right. Just like Back To The Future, Sam thinks he can use time travel to his advantage by placing bets on future events; but his grand plan is wrecked and he has to fall back on his wits and his natural ingenuity to cope instead. Sam is an engaging protagonist, flawed but resilient, and I had fun with him!

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