Book Review: The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal

‘There’s a trick to time. You can make it expand or you can make it contract. Make it shorter or make it longer . . .’

Some moments you want to last forever. Some moments shape a life.

For Mona, it’s the joy of playing on a Wexford beach as a young girl, next to her family’s cottage overlooking the Irish sea. The thrill of moving to Birmingham with a new job and a room of her own in a busy boarding-house. Meeting the love of her life; a whirlwind marriage; a sudden, tragic loss.

But now, decades later, Mona is determined to find happiness before it’s too late. She knows that every moment is precious. But can we ever let go of the past that shaped us?

What I Thought:

I’ve struggled for quite a while with how to review The Trick to Time, it seems to be much harder to articulate reviews for books that have made a deeper impact on you – or so I find in any case!

Throughout the book we go back and forth in the life of Mona, from her upbringing in Ireland, her excitement at moving to the UK, falling in love and then personal tragedy. Present day Mona makes dolls and sells them all over the world and, while each doll is special, it’s the commissions that come from a select group of women who are referred to her that seem to mean the most.

Mona’s feeling her age on the approach to her 60th birthday and she begins to take out and examine the parts of her life that have led her to where she is. Some of her personal tragedies coincide with huge, national events and she’s left with the question – what if? What if she had done something different, or gone somewhere else? What would her life look like at 60 if these other things had been done?

What made the greatest impression on me was Mona’s work with the woment that are referred to her. You have to admire people who are willing to use their own personal losses to help other people, and it was easy to feel Mona’s warmth and the weight of her experience in these sections.

There’s little more I can say without completely spoiling this special book, so I won’t give away any more now – I just absolutely recommend it, as it’s a beautifully-written look at how grief affects us in its many and varied ways.

About the Author:

Kit de Waal was born in Birmingham to an Irish mother, who was a childminder and foster carer and a Caribbean father.

She worked for fifteen years in criminal and family law, was a magistrate for several years and sits on adoption panels. She used to advise Social Services on the care of foster children, and has written training manuals on adoption, foster care and judgecraft for members of the judiciary.

Her writing has received numerous awards including the Bridport Flash Fiction Prize 2014 and 2015 and the SI Leeds Literary Reader’s Choice Prize 2014 and the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year.

MY NAME IS LEON, her first novel was published in 2016 and shortlisted for the Costa Book Award. She has two children and lives in the West Midlands.

You can find out more about Kit de Waal at

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

This entry was posted in Book Review and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.