Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018 | Shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards 2017, First Novel Award
May 2017 Debut of the Month.
This magnetic debut evokes the social and emotional landscapes of interwar England with an abundance of originality. With the country battered and drained by the Great War, orphan Lucy Marsh finds herself in an extraordinary place, and in the company of even more extraordinary people, when an old army truck trundles her to woods on the edge of London. Here Lucy feels that anything could happen: “She might shake hands with a ghost or dance alongside a lion or spoon trifle into the mouth of a storybook dwarf”. But what Lucy really encounters is every bit as remarkable as her imaginings, for it’s here that she meets the “funny men”, four former soldiers disfigured by war, each named after one of Dorothy’s Emerald City-bound cohorts.
The novel is a rich tapestry that interweaves the social fabric of interwar England with fairy tale touches. Lucy comes to feel that “the world is confusing, but the forest is not”, poignantly conveying the strangeness of the period. The author has a fabulously visual style, and I loved the ensemble of characters - some haunted, some scarred, all of them nimbly conjured by a debut author with considerable talent.
The Costa Judges say: ‘A perfectly-paced, unsettling yet strangely uplifting tale about fractured lives and broken people.’
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.
|Publication date:||15th April 2017|
|Primary Genre||Modern and Contemporary Fiction|
Closing date: 07/10/2021
'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
Xan Brooks is an award-winning writer, editor and broadcaster. He spent his rude youth as part of the founding editorial team of the Big Issue magazine and his respectable middle period as an associate editor at the Guardian, specialising in film. The Clocks in This House All Tell Different Times is his first novel.More About Xan Brooks