The Clocks In this House All Tell Different Times by Xan Brooks.

I loved this book despite its subject matter, which is really harrowing at times. It’s a stunning, beautifully written debut by Xan Brooks. Perfectly paced and expertly told, it’s a story about the broken people and fractured society left in the wake of World War One. It’s 1923 and 14 year old Lucy has been orphaned. She’s living with her grandparents in their failing pub in North London when a groundsman from a nearby stately home offers them money if he can take her to picnic every Sunday evening with ‘the funny men’ in Epping Forest. The men turn out to be 4 disabled war veterans – missing limbs and wearing tin masks to hide their horrific injuries. The children, who are taken there, come to know them as characters from the Wizard of Oz – Lion, Scarecrow, Tinman and Toto. But this story is no fairytale and the real reason for the woodland picnic soon becomes clear. It makes for very uncomfortable reading at times, but despite that there is something wonderfully uplifting about it – driven by the main character, Lucy. Xan Brooks writes so well. What could have become a fractured narrative with its kaleidoscopic view on society after the war hangs together perfectly and pulls you deeper and deeper into the unfolding stories. A masterful first novel.


2 thoughts on “The Clocks In this House All Tell Different Times by Xan Brooks.

  1. Many thanks for the recommendation Sophie. I have a personal interest in WW1 and its enduring legacy. Bought it, read it and have been moved by it to such an extent as I could never have imagined. It is a dark scary thought provoking book with a super heroine – a beacon of light in a world that chose to forget those who had all but made the ultimate sacrifice.👍👏

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