The World Turned Upside Down

Written by Leila Rasheed
Review by Julie Parker

This novella on the theme “Hidden Stratford,” set partly in 1642 and 2042, was commissioned for the Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival 2010 from local author Leila Rasheed. In the 17th-century element of the story, the first chapter shows us Jack’s perspective – a young boy travelling towards Stratford with his dying mother on the eve of the Civil War in 1642. In the second chapter in this part of the story, we meet Mary Campion, whose mother has died and whose father is away. She lives with a friend of her mother’s family and seeks disguise as a servant, as she is from a Catholic family, and occasionally carries notes to the local Catholic priest from her father. The battles between the Parliamentarians and the Royalists around Stratford are then described from the point of view of these two young people.

In the 2042 part of the story, Camilla and Darren are set a school project about the Civil War and as part of her research she reads a book by Mary Campion, the young girl in the older story. However, the world of 2042 is very different to ours and another Civil War is imminent, this time between the established government of King William and the Greens who are supported by the people of East Anglia, flooded out of their homes.

This is an original take on the global problems of today linked to the different world of the seventeenth century through the location of Stratford and Edgehill. Quite a complex plot is deftly accomplished and the whole is very readable. Recommended for 12+. This book was issued in a limited edition of 200; contact Annie Ashworth via the festival website at for availability.