Xan Brooks – The Clocks in this House all tell Different Times


Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Xan Brooks Clocks… ( I get so lazy with long titles) is…is… well I can say that I REALLY enjoyed reading this novel from beginning to end but to describe it is a different beast.

The story itself  takes place in post first world war Britain. The year is 1923 and an Orphan called Lucy and four other children go to a field every Sunday and perform sexual favours to soldiers disfigured by the war in some cases physically all psychologically. Eventually an event happens which concludes these outings but then takes the book to new territories.

At the same time there are some chapters dedicated to various characters and they all come together halfway through the book.

After the big event Lucy and her friend Winifred move to the house where the soldiers are kept and they indulge in drugs and partying until things turn ugly and Lucy has to move on again discovering the terrible secrets of the first world war.

Brooks tackles a lot of topics in this wonderfully complex book. The main one would be the advent of progress that the war brought. During this period cars were gaining popularity and the effect of them is evident that things will change for the worst. Brooks describes early 1900’s Britain as a peaceful place where innocence reigned and life was simple. However after WWI life had to evolve, which leaves a trail of destruction that’s as bad as the war.

The other major theme is social class. Lucy and her friends are from a working class background but once she moves to a Lord’s mansion she encounters a different type of people but also one that has been ravaged by war and are losing their power.

The psychological effect of war also has an important role as this is represented by the maimed war ‘heroes\ or as they are called The Funny Men. The most severe case is the character who suffers from PTSD. Also these protagonists also represent the disillusion that comes with war: on one hand they are heroes but at what cost?

The title itself, which is a description of the clocks in the manor, in my opinion, stems from the fact that time is different for each character in the book and indeed for the world itself, time is moving at a disorientated pace.

Stylistically Brooks uses the third person, a tense I dislike and constitutes the majority of unread books on my shelves but here I couldn’t stop reading, I guess it goes to show that one has to be in the right mood to read a book.

The Clocks… is a thought provoking, quirky read. It is different but does also contain closure, which works in this case. I can officially call myself a Xan Brooks fan and I can see The Clocks in this House all tell Different Times gaining more accolades as the word spreads.