I Stopped Time - kindle ebook by Jane Davis

New Fiction from Former winner of the Daily Mail First Novel Award

Wouldn't you feel cheated if the woman you'd imagined was the villain of your childhood turned out to be someone rather extraordinary?


Edwardian Brighton. A wide-eyed girl enters Mr Parker's photographic studio and receives her first lesson about the rising medium that is to shape her life: "Can you think of a really good memory? Perhaps you can see it when you close your eyes. Now think how much better it would be if you could take it out and look at whenever you wanted to!"
2009: Disgraced politician Sir James Hastings has resigned himself to living out his retirement in a secluded Surrey village. He doesn't react when he learns that the mother who had abandoned him dies at the age of 108: he imagined she had died many years ago. Brought up by his father, a charismatic war-hero turned racing driver, the young James, torn between blaming himself and longing, eventually dismissed her as the 'villain' of his childhood. But, when he inherits her life's work - a photography collection spanning over six decades - he is forced to both confront his past and re-evaluate what he wants from his old age. Assisted by student Jenny Jones, who has recently lost her own mother to cancer, Sir James is persuaded to look at the photographs as if he is seeing through his mother's eyes, only to discover an extraordinary tale of courage and sacrifice.
"Three. I have three stories," Lottie Parker tells her solicitor while putting her affairs in order. "But it was Oscar Wilde who said that a story is almost certainly a lie."

Where did you find your inspiration for 'I Stopped Time'?Reading a biography of Lee Miller, one of my heroines. I knew her photography but, as it turned out, very little of her life. She was an extraordinary, extraordinary person. A sought-after fashion model, who became a muse to surrealist photographers and artists such as Man Ray and Picasso. But she had always yearned to be on the other side of the lens and, in time, she became highly respected for her own photography. At the outbreak of World War II she became dissatisfied with her modelling work and documented the Blitz for Vogue, then underwent yet another transformation to become the only woman in combat photo journalism in Europe, taking incredible personal risks. Lee recorded the first use of napalm at the battle of St. Malo, the liberation of Paris, and she was there when the victims of Nazi concentration camps were liberated.

Her personal relationships were never straightforward, but it a huge testament to the strength of her personality that all of her ex-lovers became friends. She eventually settled down in Sussex with the artist and curator, Roland Penrose, with whom she had a son, Anthony. He knew Lee as an embarrassing mother and had no idea of her history until, after she died, he discovered her collection of work. I found his comment that he was cheated out of knowing someone really very extraordinary extremely poignant, and it set me on the road to discovering one of my main characters, Sir James Hastings.

Other things, I stumbled upon along the way. One of the things that happened while I was writing a book that spans the period of the First World War was the death of Harry Patch. I had been deeply moved watching and reading about the histories of the last of the Veterans, and admired him greatly for his decision to speak out after so many years' silence. After all that time had passed, you could still see how raw his emotions were. 

Reviews

  • 'Touching, exciting, romantic and tender, this novel shines in the deft hands of its author. Fans of Downton Abbey and those who want to travel back to the first half of the 20th century will get a great treat in I Stopped Time.' Compulsion Reads Endorsed
  • 'This book voiced everything I've held inside of me as a photographer. Stopping time... looking at the world with a different perspective. I found it to be affirming of all artists, especially photographers.' Amazon reviewer, Selah
  • 'I could really smell the salty sea air and hear the waves rolling in over the pebbles.' Jemma Bastable
  • 'Jane Davis is truly a writer's writer. She has taken an entire century - a feat in itself worthy of Ken Follett or Gabriel Garcia Marquez - and covered it with the richness of her characterisation, presenting a family that is beautifully flawed, brimming with affection, and inimitably human.' Book blogger, J Metcalf
  • 'This book is utterly compelling, carefully blending together the stories of a mother and son to create a family history running through the twentieth century.' Amazon reviewer, Melissa
  • 'I was hooked from the very first page.' Kathleen Crowley

5 things compulsive Goodread's contributor Molly loved about I Stopped Time.

1. The contrast between the times, the early part of the twentieth century was contrasted by present day, in the same way that childhood and adulthood were contrasted.
2. The secondary characters. Sometimes I feel that secondary characters are often lost in book but I felt they were equally given a voice in this story. I really grew to love Alfie especially!
3. Mystery. There was a lot of mystery in the book, why did Charlotte leave ? why did she never return ? I felt that the questions were tied up well.
4. The setting was amazing. I felt really immersed in book especially in Lottie's childhood Brighton.
5. The heartbreak, especially for James, there was some serious emotion in this book!

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