Stop the Clock by Alison Mercer

Stop the Clock: Alison Mercer (Black Swan, 2012)Reviews of “grown up” books don’t really fit with my blog, but it is a personal blog and I do want to write about whatever I want to write about so I’ll be adding a few pages of other book reviews over time. The first of these is Stop the Clock by Alison Mercer.

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 is Alison’s first novel and as she is a local author, I was lucky enough to go along to the book launch held at Mostly Books, Abingdon. Being terminally shy I was utterly terrified but I’m also a book addict so it was a delight to be there for such an event, and something I will definitely remember fondly when Alison is a guaranteed best-seller – which based on this novel would be well deserved.

I mainly read children’s books, and my adult genre is fantasy / science fiction but I also enjoy real-life, female oriented fiction (“chick lit” if you prefer), for example Bridget Jones (although I disliked the sequel) and Marion Keyes’ novels. But on thinking, I don’t think I’ve read in this genre for over twelve years so Stop the Clock was a change of pace for me.

The novel is about three women who have been friends since university, and how their lives are unfolding ten years after they saw in the new millennium together. They have what they (thought they) wanted in life but are they happy?

I mainly read novels involving supernatural beings and some kind of contained plot where the world need to be saved or the bad guys thwarted (or a crime solved.) So it’s rare for me to read something where there’s not a specific plot end to work towards. But Stop the Clock works perfectly as an insight into the lives of the three main protagonists, a series of ups and downs in their lives and an ending where although there is so much more that could be told about these women’s lives, you feel completely satisfied on the journey that you’ve taken with them.

The reviews I read before reading the book myself talked about relating to the characters and therefore as I started the book I was thinking I have nothing in common with these rich London people! It didn’t stop my enjoyment, but as with any new friends you don’t get to know everything about them instantly, you learn over time. As I progressed through the book, and got to know Lucy, Tina and Natalie, I can now honestly say that I related to and with them all in different ways.

This is a novel, so there needs to be conflict. I did feel sad that relationships seemed to be breaking down all over the place, but that’s the point of a story and the fact I felt for the characters is a good sign. I think Alison’s writing is excellent quality and am in awe that she wrote it in the evenings while her children were sleeping.

Although I went to the book launch, I didn’t get this book as a review copy but chose to purchase it and support the launch because the synopsis interested me. I’m glad I did and I’m glad I read Stop the Clock. It’s a departure from my normal reading but I’m sure I shall be buying Alison’s second book once it’s published.

You should read this book if: you’re a parent; you like chick-lit; you want to support a debut author; you’re looking for the next good read.

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