After finishing off the epic, classic Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales collection near the end of August I found myself at the beginning of September still craving short stories but also something a bit different. In which case I picked up Once Upon a Timepiece a modern novel composed of twelve short stories by Starr Wood.
Once Upon a Timepiece follows a gold 1946 Breitling Chronomat man’s watch which was designed for aviators in World War II. This watch passes from hand to hand during a year in various, unusual and unexpected ways. Each chapter is a month from that year looking at the individual who has it during that period. How the watch comes to their possession, what they do with it, how it changes their lives, and finally how they eventually lose it. I thought the concept of Once Upon a Timepiece was excellent. It was really interesting to delve into the lives of a diverse selection of people and then to see how the watch changed or moved them on. I found some of the stories quite sad and serious but others were lighter which made for a good balance. At the end I liked the hint that perhaps the watch might finally go to who it was meant to be with all along.
Once Upon a Timepiece has a large cast of characters; some I liked, some were amusing, some I sympathised, and other I didn’t like at all. However the true protagonist really was the gold 1946 Breitling Chronomat watch. I enjoyed the history and research Wood put into the story of the watch; plus the effect he had upon the individuals that possessed it. I actually looked this watch up and it is a rather good looking watch. I can understand how it would be appealing and important to so many people. While of course the watch has no emotions and is not able to make any choices it is the link between all these people’s lives. The glue and interest of the whole novel.
Once Upon a Timepiece is the debut novel of Starr Wood. I have read many novels and quite a few short story collections as well now but to read a novel composed of short stories was a refreshing and interesting experience for me. I thought Once Upon a Timepiece was beautifully and precisely written with well chosen detail and description. The characters themselves were well created and believable even though we only got to know some of them over a few pages; which I thought was a real achievement for Wood. I think you could also tell Wood had really done his research to have created such a diverse collection of characters and stories. All in all I flew through Once Upon a Timepiece in just one week.
Once Upon a Timepiece is refreshing and fascinating novel that looks into the lives of ordinary people who are all touched by the same watch. I highly recommend to those interested in modern literature, family drama and short stories.
Have you read Once Upon a Timepiece?