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The Trick to Time

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  1,627 ratings  ·  294 reviews
Mona is a dollmaker. She crafts beautiful, handmade wooden dolls in her workshop in a sleepy seaside town. Every doll is special. Every doll has a name. And every doll has a hidden meaning, from a past Mona has never accepted.

Each new doll takes Mona back to a different time entirely - back to Birmingham, in 1972. Back to the thrill of being a young Irish girl in a big cit
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 29th 2018 by Viking
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Christine I don't know either and would be happy to hear from anyone who understood where the beach scene fitted in time-wise.…moreI don't know either and would be happy to hear from anyone who understood where the beach scene fitted in time-wise.(less)

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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  1,627 ratings  ·  294 reviews

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‘. . . one day, you will want these hours back, my girl. You will wonder how you lost them and you will want to get them back. There’s a trick to time.’
. . .
‘You can make it expand or you can make it contract. Make it shorter or make it longer,’
he says.”

Mona is a little girl who wants to play on the beach instead of spend time with her sick mother. Perfectly natural for a child.

The story follows Desdemona, Mona, a young Irish girl, only child, and young William, a young Irish lad she mee
Aug 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: current-lit-uk
The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal.
‘Some moments you want to last forever. Some moments shape a life.’
This novel is set in two time periods. Current day, as our main character Mona is approaching her 60th birthday and the past, covering Mona’s childhood in Ireland and later years when she moves to Birmingham. I found the sections set in the past to be the strongest and most interesting.
In the 70’s, Mona meets and falls in love with William. Living in Birmingham, they marry and Mona falls pregnant
Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun)
This is a beautiful book. Video review here: ...more
Louise Wilson
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Mona is a doll maker. She crafts beautiful wooden dolls in her workshop. Every doll has a name. And every doll has a hidden meaning., from a past Mona has never accepted.

Mona is approaching sixty years old. She creates wooden dolls with the help of the local carpenter. The story jumps from the present to Mona's past as a young girl/woman., when she falls in love with William. They both leave Ireland for a new life in Birmingham. But things go wrong the night of the IRA bombings. There is a fanta
Eric Anderson
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love it when a novel surprises me. I’m not specifically talking plot twists – although, this book does have a big one towards the end which I didn’t anticipate. It’s more that feeling when I’m reading a book and the writing is fine, but I’m not sure I see the point of the story. But then it gets to a section where it emotionally grips me and breaks my heart and pieces it back together bit by bit. The best example of this I always go back to is Colm Tóibín’s “Brooklyn” which made me flip and fa ...more
Umut Rados
Apr 15, 2018 rated it liked it
If I can summarise the book very shortly, I can tell it's emotionally moving and heart breaking. It's well written, touching your heart.
Mona is our main character, who falls in love with William at a very young age, and they get married. We start listening to the story from her when she's stepping into her 60th birthday and she's reflecting on her past. We go back and forth to different periods of her life and try to bring the pieces together to learn about her current state. She runs a doll s
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
I read this book due to its longlisting for the 2018 Women’s Prize.

The book is written from the third party viewpoint of Mona, starting just before her sixtieth birthday in an English seaside town where she runs a toy shop and an internet business selling hand-made dolls, crafter by a local carpenter (a loner with whom she has an ambiguous relationship) and then painted by her and beautifully dressed in clothes she makes from second hand clothes.

At the book’s start she spots an elderly and seem
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For my full review, visit me at

This was an emotionally charged read. I struggled to get into it initially and then found I was absorbed into the narrative. It made me weepy and sad, so I guess it wasn’t the most of heart-lifting books I could read!

For my full review, visit me at
Apr 29, 2018 rated it liked it
A middle-of-the-road read. Good, not great. Very lukewarm feelings about this.

When I started The Trick to Time, I was optimistic. I loved the polished, concise writing style. I was intrigued by the fact that its protagonist was a doll-maker (how cool is that!). As the novel's story progressed I was like okay, this could be interesting. let's wait and see how this pans out. So I waited, and waited, and then waited some more, but the standout moments I wanted to see just never materialized. Even w
I read the first 70 pages. There’s nothing wrong with the book per se; I just wasn’t compelled to read more. Mona is a lonely 60-year-old who runs a toy shop in a seaside town and devotes herself to making custom-designed dolls. There are some major losses in her past, at first just hints and then whole stories. Her father once told her there’s a trick to time: “You can make it expand or you can make it contract.” In memory Mona can relive the limited moments she had with her loved ones. I would ...more
Elaine Mullane || At Home in Books
A simple but beguiling story. 4.5 stars.

In The Trick to Time, author Kit de Waal takes us back to Birmingham in the 70s, during the time of the IRA pub bombings. While the events of the time are pivotal to the story of the tragedy that unfolds in this book, they occur off to the side, with de Waal, instead, bringing her focus to the personal misfortunes of two characters: 20-something Irish immigrants Mona and William. At first, this is a story of love at first sight, but it soon develops into a
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Towards the end of last year I wrote about books I was looking forward to reading this year. Kit de Waal's new book, The Trick to Time, was among them. I loved her previous book, My Name is Leon, but I absolutely adored reading this wonderful book.

"One day, you will want these hours back, my girl. You will wonder how you lost them and you will want to get them back. There's a trick to time. You can make it expand or you can make it contract. Make it shorter or make it longer."

Mona is approaching
This is a novel that makes you think and it packs a lot of feeling and depth of emotion into less than three hundred pages.

We meet Mona, in her present situation, coming up to sixty years old and living alone in a seaside town and creating and decorating special wooden dolls for her shop with the help of a local carpenter, each doll with a significance, and we meet Mona in the past, as a little girl in Ireland and then as a young woman in Birmingham in 1972, just starting to make her way in the
Deborah Dobrin
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to be given this book to read by Net Galley. It has taken me days to write this review and I am not sure I can do the book justice. A beautiful story that deals with a subject people don’t talk about, the life altering grief that comes with the loss of a baby and the suffering of a still birth.

This is Mona’s story but every single character in this book is beautifully drawn and has depth, each one adds a layer to the book that draws you in and creates her well rounded life, t
Anne Griffin
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mona broke my heart! Wonderful story of love and loyalty.
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's not often that a book makes me cry but The Trick to Time did. A beautifully written story about a love affair remembered by 60 year old Mona who lives alone and works with a local carpenter crafting dolls for women who have suffered the loss of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth or cot death.

Although Mona has friends she is quite solitary and when she begins a relationship with a neighbour, Karl life looks up. But Mona spends much of her time thinking about her first love, her husband,
Cleopatra  Pullen
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Love and loss are the big questions that most of us have to deal with in life which on the one hand makes them universal but of course each love is different as is each loss. Kit de Waal has penned an almost understated story populated by seriously lovely characters devoted to the subject.
Mona sits in her flat in London staring at the day dawning when she notices a man in the block across the way from her. He is also awake and looking out, perhaps reaching out to those around him.

I wanted to bot
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Kit de Waal was born in Birmingham,England of an Irish mother and an African-Caribbean father and she grew up in the Irish section of Birmingham. She is a dual Irish/British citizen.This is her second novel, her first published in 2016. De Waal worked as a magistrate in family courts for 15 years, experience which informed her first novel. This novel is quite a departure as the first focuses on a biracial boy in foster care.

This novel centers on the story of two Irish immigrants, Mona and Willia
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Kit de Waal’s writing deals with emotionally harrowing themes with a sensitive and delicate touch. This is a sad, sad story of stillbirth and its effect on the people involved. Without any hint of lecturing her audience, she shows how social attitudes to stillbirth and the counselling care available to parents have changed since the 1970s.

The two main characters cry out equally for our sympathy - though they handle it very differently, Mona and William’s lives are defined by their experience. M
Emily Ross
Thank you to the publishers for providing an ARC of this book through NetGalley.

DNF at 25%.

I loved the setting of this book. How could I not? It’s where I’m from. I loved the familiarity with the area and it really felt like the author knew the area and understood the socio-cultural style of the area. I also loved the Irish aspect of the character. It brought another dimension to the character.

But the book itself was just pretty meh. It was slow, it was a bit boring and I couldn’t see where it
Claire Wilson
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Trick to Time is my first Kit De Waal novel and I wasn't sure what to expect. But, like any well-written novel, the first time I picked it up, I struggled to put it back down again until I had reached the last full stop. Mona is a dollmaker. Each doll is made to size and weight of her specific customers. But Mona is hiding a dark, heartbreaking, secret from her past. Fantastically written - The Trick to Time will stay with you long after you have reached the final full stop. 4 Stars. ...more
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Read this for my in person book club. Interesting exploration of ageing and memory, and very good at describing life behind the veneer of one's public persona. Interesting twist, which it took me a while to get. ...more
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved Kit de Waal’s writing from the moment I picked up My Name is Leon. Heartfelt, insightful and with a lovely turn of phrase, she’s got a knack for portraying the truth to human life, and so when I saw that The Trick to Time was coming out, I grabbed the ARC copy with much excitement.
From the off: this book was completely different to her first. Where My Name is Leon focusses on the struggles of growing up in foster care as a biracial boy, The Trick to Time is all about the story of Mona, a
Theresa Smith
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Irish fiction often seems to have a way of getting deep under my skin, right down into my bones where I end up feeling the story in a way that makes it impossible to truly ever let go of. The Trick to Time is such a gem of a novel, so incredibly moving and uniquely insightful.

Mona is sixty, lives in a nice apartment with a view, is financially secure, has a successful small business creating unique collectable dolls, and enjoys the company of a group of friends and acquaintances on a regular ba
Kate Henderson
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lost for words... wow! I loved this book! For only 260 pages it felt epic! Most of the books I have read recently have felt a little too long. This book however, created its world and characters in such a short amount of pages. Each page was a masterpiece at tugging the heartstrings. So Sentimental and so real and true! Loved this!!! You HAVE TO READ THIS!!
One of the best, if not THE best book I have read so far this year! Beautiful!!!
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley, n
I love to find books set in my hometown of Birmingham. This was such an emotionally charged book that will have a lasting effect on me. It deals with love and grief over many years. It slips in time for different eras of Mona's life.
The dolls she makes have many secrets to tell. They are wonderful wooden dolls They are from parts of her life. Each doll takes her back to a certain time.
Jessica Reads & Rambles
3.5 stars. I became so much more emotionally invested in Mona and her story towards the end of this one. A plot twist (that I honestly did not see coming) is to thank for that. There is definitely 'a trick to time' played here though - so much so that I got a little confused at what was real and what was imagined in the last few pages of the novel. ...more
Beth Bonini
There’s a point in life - perhaps it arrives at different times for different people, but certainly most of us must experience it by middle-age - when time seems to speed up: another summer gone by again, and surely it’s not Christmas already? And perhaps as the experiences and memories pile up, the past seems always to be with us - and it becomes increasingly difficult to just live in the present moment.

When this story begins, the protagonist Mona (‘Desdemona’) is on the eve of turning 60. She
I received a free copy of this book from Penguin Ireland exchange for an honest review.

A young Irish girl meets a young Irish boy as the two of them travel to England to find their fortunes. Predictably, they fall in love but soon a tragedy tears them apart. Over 40 years later, Mona is helping other women overcome their trauma, while still grieving for her own loss.

This book is just a wonderful, gentle, and moving novel that honestly just took my break away. I loved how hooked i got into Mona’s
Anna Adams
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I imagine this is one of those books that you would find in a dusty corner of an attic. Truly a hidden gem of a novel.

This story carries us through the past and present of Mona’s life journey. I was instantly drawn to Mona, she is such a strong, mature and fierce woman who suffered more than her share of heartbreak. From the start, Karl made the hairs on the back of my neck stand tall, my creep alert radar went off straightaway and I was hoping that it would for Mona as well. William, a true ge
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“one day, you will want these hours back, my girl. You will wonder how you lost them and you will want to get them back. There's a trick to time.” 0 likes
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