19 September 2012

Book Review: 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..."

Rating: 4/5

Alison Mercer's debut book is one of the novels I have really been looking forward to this year, simply because it sounded great and I wanted to find out more about it! Before it was released, it went through a bit of a cover change to the one we have as a finished published edition (the picture on this review), and I have to say I did like the original one slightly more because it was quite eye-catching! However, I wanted to start it so quickly did and found myself completely involved in the stories of each of these friends - very different and surprising in their own ways, but each as believable as the next. It's a wonderfully written debut novel and one I'm highly recommending.

Three friends, Lucy, Tina and Natalie have been close for years, and one New Years Eve share their life plans with each other - their hopes, dreams and ambitions for the future, and hope that they will all get exactly what they want and need. Fast forward ten years, and things are very different from how they were a decade ago, but have each of the women got what they crave? Lucy craves stability and a happy home and family life, Tina wants success in her career and to be an independent woman and Natalie just wants to meet Mr Right and settle down and live a happy life with the one she loves. Will any of the women have got their happy ever after ending?

I really liked the way this book was written. Mercer makes sure to divide the story equally between the three women, and weaves them together in such a way that they stand alone as their own stories, but at the same time relies on the friendship of the women to bring it all back together again and be a cohesive story. We meet the women when they are in their twenties, and all hopeful for what life has ahead of them. When we meet them later, things have greatly changed in different ways, and so has the women's friendship too, a fact which felt realistic as of course no matter how close we are at one point in our lives, things change as we all move in our lives in different directions, and this part of the book felt extremely well put together.

I liked each of the characters for different reasons, and the strength each of them found to overcome the various obstacles within their stories - I'm not going to reveal a lot about what happens to them because I think it's more fun to read about the things happening as you go through the book. My favourite character was Tina which surprised me as I didn't really like her at first at all, yet Mercer really turns her around and made me sympathetic towards her a lot more, she was a very believable characters also, in her feelings and her behaviours. I struggled to warm most to Natalie, as I felt I couldn't get that into her story - she felt like she got the least "air-time" in the book for some reason. Lucy was almost the one who held it all together for me, and it was nice to see how their friendship remained important to them, and they valued it in different ways as their lives took different directions.

I think a lot of women will be able to relate to this book in different - it's a book that can appeal to a wide range of readers, and is a very successful novel. I think it's a strong debut with a great narrative, and a storyline (or three!) that draws you in and doesn't throw you back out again until you've turned the last page. It isn't a book with an obvious happy ending in lots of ways, and I enjoyed trying to work out what the three women were going to do next, and how their decisions would impact on those around them too. It's a great novel, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and look forward to reading Mercer's future novels, of which I hope there will be more soon! A great novel, and a must-read.

You can buy Stop the Clock as a paperback or an eBook now!

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