Monday, 17 November 2014

When the Clocks Stopped - Reviewed by Anna Belfrage

When the Clocks Stopped by M. L. Eaton
Reviewed by Anna Belfrage

Please see below for information about the giveaway!!

I must admit to being less than overwhelmed by the first initial pages of this book: time-slip through vivid dreams is not a particularly innovative approach, and the problem with using dreams is that the reader experiences the events at too much of a remove. This, however, was before I met Hazel Dawkins, her charming dog Poppadums and her endearing husband Bruce.

Set in Rype-in-the-Marsh, the marsh being Romney Marsh, When the Clocks Stopped is the story of Hazel, a young female solicitor when women rarely made it beyond the secretarial role. It is the 1970s, and Hazel is very happily pregnant, looking forward to having her baby and retiring from the professional world to concentrate on being a mother and wife, the role she has always aspired to. For a modern working woman, Hazel’s plans don’t make sense: the young woman is a Supreme Court Solicitor, and she wants to throw it all out of the window to coo at her baby? For Hazel, her choice is perfectly rational – and in sync with the general perceptions of the time. (As an aside, there are plenty of young women today who also would prefer being a stay-at-home mum, but who simply can’t afford to – an unachievable dream for most professional couples in the here and now.)

Things, however, conspire against Hazel. Or rather Mr. Stone, her bank manager, does. Once he understands that Hazel is a solicitor, he resolutely takes charge of her life, setting her up with a potential child minder and a string of clients. Hazel’s planned three-week holiday before the baby arrives goes up in smoke, but she is quite incapable of saying “no” to Mr. Stone.

When the Clocks Stopped pulsates with life, with colourful descriptions of the various people Hazel interacts with. Other than her Aussie husband, an intense red-headed accountant who has a tendency to take cold baths and eat like a horse (in between fondling his magnificently pregnant wife), we have the cheerful if persistent Mr. Stone, a charming and resourceful dentist, a cop on a bicycle, a singing doctor, his terminally ill female patient, and a somewhat batty old woman called Mavis. Plus, of course, the marginally less batty Mrs. Pendant, who insists someone is smuggling drugs and people through the sleepy village of Rype – or, to be more precise, smuggling them through the attic of her house. Turns out Mrs. Pendant is not at all batty…

Hazel may be young, but she handles her odd assortment of clients with aplomb, and when Mrs. Pendant asks her to look into the potential trafficking racket, Hazel reluctantly agrees, promising to review Mrs. Pendant’s ancient deeds to try and unravel how come Mrs. Pendant has an attic she cannot access – only her neighbour can.

The moment those ancient deeds end up in Hazel’s hands, her life goes into overdrive. Her house is broken into, disreputable characters follow her around, and if it hadn’t been for Poppadum, the wonderful canine heroine of this story, things would quickly have gotten out of hand. Well, to some extent they do, but with Poppadum at her side and Bruce holding her back, our Hazel is quite capable of taking on the entire world – or is she?

Other than excellent dialogue, beautiful and vivid descriptions, and a light-handed introduction to the intricacies of English property law (in itself quite the impressive feat!), Ms. Eaton also gives us an entertaining romp of a plot, where no one is ever quite who they seem to be and the terminally ill patient arises out of her bed like Lazarus. Entirely captivated, I laugh and turn pages with speed, quite, quite hooked on Hazel and her companions.

Even after finishing the book, it is my opinion that the fragmented story from the 18th century - as retold through Hazel's dreams and the passages featuring Annie from the past - is somewhat distracting however well-written. The history of Romney Marsh, of the smugglers who operated there throughout the previous centuries, could have been presented without resorting to this mechanism. As it is, I flip through the italicised passages depicting Annie's life, so eager am I to return to Rose Cottage and the world of Hazel and Bruce.

Despite the above comment, When the Clocks Stopped is a fantastic read. By the time I reach the end, I am emotionally drained after an excessively exciting finale. Does Poppadum save the day? Ha! My lips are sealed, as they say, but I must say Bruce shows impressive creativity and resourcefulness when so required. Not that I’m surprised; after all, the man is an accountant!

Fortunately for me, there is a second Hazel and Bruce book. Need I say it is already on my Kindle?

The author has so generously offered an e-copy of When the Clocks Stopped for a giveaway. For a chance to win, simply comment below or on this review's associated Facebook thread


About the author 

Marion Eaton has wanted to be a writer all her life, but was somewhat derailed – and delayed – by a legal career that started in the 1970s and went on to be a great success. Other than law and writing, Ms. Eaton has a major interest in holistic health and has, further to her fictional writing, also published a book about energy healing. More information about Ms. Eaton can be found on her websiteWhen the Clocks Stopped is available on Amazon and Amazon UK.

Anna Belfrage is the author of seven published books, all part of The Graham Saga. Set in the 17th century, the books tell the story of Matthew Graham and his time-travelling wife, Alex Lind. Anna can be found on amazon, twitter, facebook and on her website. If you would like Anna to review your book, please see our submissions tab above.


  1. What a fab review and this sounds like a book I would love to read.

    1. Excuse me while I give myself a small pat on the back for finally remembering my google account password :D

  2. An interesting review. I am a fan of time - slip, a genre which is difficult to pull off well. This review interests me enough to want to read the book, hence it is on my TBR list now.

  3. Another book for my TBR list! Reminds me of one of my favourite Daphne du Maurier books, The House on the Strand.