Stokes has an unquenchable penchant for using the symbolism of objects as a springboard for her stories (The Memory Book; The Amber Photograph; The Treasure Box) and this novel predictably combines her distinctively good writing with a mostly recycled plot line involving time travel and women looking to the past for guidance. This contemporary tale, aimed loosely at evangelical Christian women, features 51-year-old widow Abby Quinn McDougall lamenting her life. She feels trapped between a surly teenage daughter, Neal Grace, and an aging live-in mother who requires her careful attention. On the family bookcase is an ivory porcelain "wishing jar," an heirloom that's purported to work its magic for those with deep yearnings. Abby, Neal Grace and Granny Q all long for change, and their wishes become the axis around which the story spins. The novel, in three parts, starts strongly, then slips into a time travel sequence that is fairly imaginative, but weakens the narrative and slows the pace. The multigenerational relationships of women are always good fodder for fiction, yet some of Stokes's plot elements (death by drunk driver, a hospital scene turning point and an unwed teen pregnancy) are hackneyed motifs in evangelical fiction. Stokes's established readers will feel a sense of dj vu, though her prose is smooth as butter. One wonders what Stokes might be capable of should she stretch her wings and risk a little bit more. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.