Buzz: Second novel from the author of bestseller, and Irish Novel Prize winner, My Name Is Leon.
That feeling you sometimes get looking out to sea: a mix of calm and melancholy. Wistful, haunting; at peace. The Trick To Time captures all of those. It’s suffused with the feel of the sea. Shifting sands through an hourglass, emotional tides that rise and fall like a sigh. Only, in de Waal’s hands, it is also impossibly subtle.
The protagonist, Mona, grows up on the Irish coast and, as a child, escapes to the beach from the sadness, pressure and confusion of a dying mother: “...over the yielding dunes and down to the fringe of the Kilmore shore. Sand as soft as powder all around the curve of the bay.” When her father finds her there, he tells her: “‘one day, you will want these hours back, my girl. You will wonder how you lost them and you will want them back. There’s a trick to time.’”
This is a heartbreaking ache of a book: it explores some harrowing themes, opens doors to experiences we should all be aware of, and is gripping and terrifyingly tense. But there’s a joy glowing at the heart of Home that elevates it above your average tear-jerker or page-turner. A joy that belongs to four (and-a-half) year-old Jesika.
The story is told through little Jesika’s eyes. Words and facts are presented as she perceives them, rather than how they are. So the ‘mould’ on the wall becomes ‘moles,’ a ‘chest infection’ a ‘chesty fecshun,’ and one of the opening lines reads: “My fayvrit green pen is on the windysill, where I hided it from Toby, and I take it and squeeze ahind the telly to get to the peeling-paper.”
It takes a little while to adjust to this idiosyncratic narration. At fir...