Review and giveaway – Once Upon A Timepiece by Starr Wood

By | February 8, 2014

When Conrad Sands returns a wristwatch to an old flame after 20 years apart, a remarkable chain of events begins. 

The watch passes through the hands of a gold-digger, a journalist, an enchantress and a professor. It touches the lives of a rogue art collector, a domestic helper, and an environmental campaigner. It influences a reverend’s apprentice, a kept wife, and a self-made man. All of them are strangers, yet all are intricately linked in ways that none of them see. 

A deeply thought-provoking debut novel from Starr Wood, “Once Upon a Timepiece” is a gripping portrayal of humanity’s relationship with time and the unseen threads of history that bind us together. Told through a series of twelve inter-connected short stories, it explores memory and regret, ambition and weakness, and the texture of time that lies behind all our lives.

I’m not much of a fan of short stories. I always find them a bit ephemeral, never enough depth or character development, a running out of steam leaving you wanting more. If you feel as I do, this is a book that just might make you change your mind. Although billed as “a novel”, it’s essentially twelve short stories, each representing a month of the year, all linked by a 1946 Breitling Chronomat wristwatch.

The whole collection is beautifully crafted, each story capable of standing alone, the stories strong, and all the characters vividly drawn and full of unexpected twists and turns, and the most ingenious conclusions.  When you say something is “clever” it reads as a negative, but not in this instance – all the stories are beautifully written, and the creative imagination they demonstrate sometimes takes your breath away.

I absolutely loved this book. I read and reviewed it as a result of a direct approach from Ginny at Bo Tree Books, and I can thoroughly understand why the publishers have taken this approach to promotion. It’s a book you want to tell people about, to pass on, to use as an example of how good the art of the short story can be. 

No takers for my giveaway, I suspect because many of you already have a copy after the publishers’ excellent publicity campaign – now closed!

Once Upon A Timepiece was published by Bo Tree Books in November/December 2013, and is available for Kindle and in paperback.

Starr Wood is a British journalist, writer and economist. He was born in the UK in 1970, but grew up in Nigeria, Ras Al Khaimah, South Korea, the Philippines, and Taiwan.  In 1992, he graduated from the London School of Economics and began his career as a journalist, working for a variety of news media in London and the Middle East. Since 1999, he has worked at The Economist Group, first in London, and then in Asia.  Today he lives in Singapore with his wife and three children. He runs The Economist Group’s emerging markets advisory service in South-east Asia, helping clients to navigate the economics, politics and business landscape in Asia. He continues to write for The Economist.