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Publication Date
Publication Status
Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
Trim Size
198 x 129mm

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The Clocks in This House All Tell Different Times


New Faces of Fiction 2017, Observer

Observer Fiction to look out for in 2017

The Irish Times What To Look Out for in 2017 from Independent Publishers

Jen Campbell’s ‘Most Anticipated Books of 2017’

Jean Bookish Thoughts ‘Most Anticipated Releases of 2017’

A dark social-realist fairytale, spotlighting the shadowy underside of 1920s England

Summer 1923: the modern world. Orphaned Lucy Marsh climbs into the back of an old army truck and is whisked off to the woods north of London – a land haunted by the past, where lost souls and monsters conceal themselves in the trees.

In a sunlit clearing she meets the ‘funny men’, a quartet of disfigured ex-soldiers named after Dorothy’s companions in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Here are the loved and the damaged, dark forests and darker histories, and the ever-present risk of discovery and violent retribution. Xan Brooks’ stunning debut is heartbreaking, disturbing and redemptive.

Praise for this Book

‘The assurance and skill with which Xan Brooks tells his tale in The Clocks in This House All Tell Different Times makes it difficult to believe that this is a first novel. By turns funny and tragic, awful and lovely, terrifying and warming, it’s a book told with rare elegance and narrative zest. The post-Great War England the novel depicts is a land of exhausted decay and weird encounters, filled with fake spiritualists, war heroes turned into monsters, and repulsive aristocrats. Its twisted humour and dark satire reminded me above all of Graham Greene, and that is not a comparison one makes lightly. I absolutely loved it.’ —Lloyd Shepherd, author of The English Monster

Reviews of this Book

Observer Fiction to look out for in 2017 The Clocks in This House All Tell Different Times (Salt) by Xan Brooks – a fairytale wrapped within a historical novel, it’s as quixotic and dreamlike as Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant.’ —Alex Preston, author of In Love and War

‘Thrilling, disturbing and somehow very funny … a bold, ambitious, weird novel with a lot of foliage to get lost in’ —Hannah Jane Parkinson, Observer

‘A book with heart and soul that is original, penetrative and engaging. It should be relished by every discerning reader.’ —Jackie Law, Never Imitate

‘Philly Malicka enjoys a strange fable about drugs. jazz and the scars of the Great War ... The year is 1923 and the trauma of the First World War has left Britain misshapen. Part of society hopes for social change, while others, ossified, look backward. This dark, magical tale explores the chasm between the two, and how a nation ravaged by “the storms of the things they once did, the people they once were” seeks redemption.’ —Philly Malicka, The Telegraph

‘Genuinely amazing: quirky, thought-provoking, a wonderful read.’ —Anne Goodwin

‘The Pink Earl’s stately home, where the clocks all tell different times, may be a relic from a vanished past, but the future is massively present there – and it’s the one we recognise, in which everyone is “embarked on their own adventure” and in which the rhetoric of constant change at one level disguises the perpetuation of entrenched power at another.’ —M. John Harrison, The Guardian

‘This will be familiar to fans of Decline And Fall. But what Evelyn Waugh treated satirically isn’t so funny any more, and this well-written novel is more tender and sad than bitingly hilarious.’ —Fanny Blake, Daily Mail

‘With its finely judged atmosphere of tainted innocence, Brooks’s novel frames the real horrors of post-conflict trauma as episodes of near-fairytale jeopardy: the grown-up terrors in the dark wood and the poisonous intoxications of the great house are trials in which his heroine’s strength of character is forged. As in fairy stories, the happy-ever-after consists of the simplest of fulfilled desires: a home, work, a family: love as ordinary and essential as bread.’ —Jane Shilling, Evening Standard

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