Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Black Swan (16 Aug 2012)
Meet Lucy, Tina and Natalie, twenty-something friends who are all negotiating the risky business of being grown-up.
Lucy knows exactly what she wants: her marriage to be a success, her children to be perfect, and to be the ultimate home-maker.
Tina knows what she wants too: her journalism career to take off and to see her name as a byline in a national newspaper… and the illicit affair she’s started leaves her free enough to follow her dreams.
Natalie just wants to be happy – happy with the boyfriend she’s dated since college, happy with the job she’s drifted into, happy with a life she thinks is enough – but is it really?
Ten years later, all three women have the lives they thought they wanted. But somehow, reality isn’t quite as neat and clean-cut as their dreams…
Stop the Clock begins with a prologue. It’s New Year’s Eve 1999 and we find out about Lucy, Tina and Natalie’s dreams/ambitions.
Ten years later it’s Spring 2009. We begin with Lucy, who is meeting Tina and Natalie and feeling faded and worried that she’s not as glamorous as her two friends. It is Tina’s column on The Post that causes friction and Lucy returns home sooner than planned. At home she finds something that turns her world upside down.
Next we spend time with Natalie. She’s off to antenatal class to meet Richard (the boyfriend in the blurb who is now her husband). Later on in the story, it is someone at these classes whose actions cause a life changing evaluation to be made.
Finally we spend time with Tina. We learn about her career, her colleagues and her love life.
In alternating chapters we spend time with each character as they confront hidden fears and live their lives. It’s not until our characters are together at New Year’s Eve ten years later that they finally confide in each other and share what’s really happening to them.
The characters are stereotypical and the narration of third person enables the reader to identify with each character when they are apart and when they are together. My favourite has to be Tina. Although Lucy and Natalie have their own demons to confront and each grow and learn to live in the world as who they are, Tina is the one who I felt was the most honest with herself.
We witness some traumatic scenes as we journey through their lives. Natalie’s birth experience and Tina’s immediate decision and change of mind spring to mind. Their own parents play a part too not only in the time of their lives now but also the role models they were in childhood.
I loved the way the author has the characters examining their emotions. True to life, it’s unusual for us to feel an isolated emotion as it’s usually a confusion of tangled emotions. This is acknowledged by our characters.
Another thing I liked … the nuggets of wisdom hidden within the pages. For example on page 364 when Tina is waiting to go in to be interviewed by HR and her editor at The Post:
“You couldn’t let the inevitability of last spoil the sweetness of first, or put you off, or deter you.”
With life changing events confronted including relationship breakdowns; betrayals; close family illnesses; birth/fertility; sexual gender preference and addictions, Stop the Clock will pull you in and involve you wholeheartedly in Lucy, Natalie and Tina’s lives.
I have no hesitation in recommending you add Stop the Clock to the reading pile:
I would like to thank Alison Barrow at Transworld for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.