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A Clock Without Hands: A Novel Paperback – October 25, 2005

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A heart full of sorrow beats at the center of this brooding novel, Burt's third (following The Hole and Sophie), about English painter Alex Carlisle, who is struggling to come to terms with the tragic fallout of a childhood adventure. The bulk of the novel takes place during the summer when dreamy, "slow" Alex is eight and living with his expatriate family in Altesa, Italy. He; his best friend, Jamie; and Jamie's headstrong cousin, Anna, find a man with a gunshot wound to his leg and nurse him back to health, though they gradually come to suspect that he's a dangerous terrorist. Eventually, the three go their separate ways—Jamie to an English boarding school, followed later by Alex, and Anna back to her family's home in northern Italy. In school, Alex turns to art, painting eerie pictures of the fateful summer, and Jamie slowly lets Alex in on his new, semisecret life as a jazz saxophonist, though his feelings for his friend are complicated and painful. It is Anna, however, who is most altered by their contact with the wounded man, and it's she who propels the novel toward its tragic conclusion. A heavy cloud of portentousness hangs over Burt's story, but despite its self-consciousness, this is an intriguing, involving read.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School - Alex, now in his 40s, has returned to a small Italian town where he spent idyllic summers during his childhood with his constant companions Jamie and Jamie's cousin Anna. He flashes back to a time when, exploring a deserted chapel in the hills, they find an injured man, who begs them not to go for help. Anna swears them to secrecy, and their lives change forever. They discover that the man has killed someone, but the girl spends hours listening to him as they help him heal from a gunshot wound. Then he disappears. Yet he is at the story's heart. He sends a menacing card: "Thinking of you." At 13, Alex follows Jamie to school in England, but Jamie pulls away. In their mid-teens, the two go to Florence on a school tour, and Anna joins them. In their 20s, Anna and Alex meet again in Florence. She refuses to talk about Jamie's death, supposedly an accident. Then a nightclub they visit is bombed and Alex realizes that they were all targeted. His mind constantly flashes back to past events, sometimes confusingly. But the story is gripping, and its lessons haunting: a child is turned into a tool for terrorists; a secret kept can have life-changing consequences; friendship and love can crumble under the weight of change. - Molly Connally, Chantilly Regional Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345446577
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345446572
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1 x 5.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,648,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
After a death in the family, Alex has returned to his childhood home, which prompts him to re-live the events in his life in which he has purposefully chosen to forget. Throughout the novel, he seeks to understand how the events of one summer could change his life forever.

The majority of the novel takes place in Alex's childhood, where he and his best friends Anna and Jamie stumble upon "the hermit" in a deserted chapel. The hermit is a mystery- he is critially wounded yet pleads that the children don't seek help for his injuries. Instead, the three friends take it upon themselves to care for the hermit for the duration of that summer. The secret kept among Alex, Jamie, and Anna forms an unbreakable bond, yet they soon realize that knowing the true nature of the hermit may haunt them for the rest of their lives.

As you follow the three friends into their teenage and adult lives, Alex struggles to keep their friendship strong, not fully understanding the consequences of that summer's events. It is only in retrospect that Alex begins to realize how fluid time is- how things sometimes cannot be fully understood until it's too late to change them.

Guy Burt has written the novel in a style which reflects the scattered memories of the narrator, which lends credibility to the emotional impact of the story. Although some plot lines where somewhat predictable, there were other events in the novel which were completely shocking. I was touched by this novel, and I would strongly recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback
This is a beautifully written and absolutlely haunting book, the plot of which travels effortlessly back and forth through time. I read the book in one sitting, only stopping to eat and sleep briefly. It has elements reminiscent of two of my favorites: John Fowles, and Alfred Hitchcock. There is real suspense in this book, and deeply moving relationships. Guy Burt understands the fluidity of time well, which is surprising in one so young (judging from the author's photo). I highly recommend this book to anyone, but especially to those who remember their childhood as a mysterious time, full of clues needing to be uncovered. My only criticism is that I felt it should have ended a chapter earlier, and didn't care for the last chapter as it leaned toward sentimentality which the author had managed to avoid up until then.
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Format: Kindle Edition
What a book! It was written in 1999 and there are only 5 reviews,
people are missing a wonderful story. Where to begin to review this book?
It is well written, wonderful character development, and so literate.
The grammer is precise. It is great to read a book with correct grammer
and good editing.The plot pulls at the heart strings. The story is told by
Alex, a brilliant but innocent and rather slow presenting young man. It is
about a deep and fulfilling friendship of 3 young people. We meet them as
children and see them evolve into complex adults.. They are each unique, talented.
and introspective. They march to their own drummer but all 3 are pledged to keep
a secret . Young people tied to a life changing secret is an overdone plot---
but not this one. There is one episode that has nothing to do with the story. Alex finds a
snake,which has had its head smashed by at car. He pokes and pokes with a stick and the
snake moves a bit and then dies. How skilled is a writer to make this incident memorable to a reader.
This story is past, present and future. Burt moves the reader through each with skill. It takes
concentration to keep up. It takes the first 25 pages to get your bearings. Don't give it up,
There is so much more to this story than just the relationship of Alex, Jamie and Anna.
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Format: Paperback
Years ago I spotted this book as I was getting ready to board a train from London to Edinburgh. The English title is The Dandielion Clock. I started reading and was hooked at once - a couple breaks for meals and little more - I finished the book before our trip was done and have recommended it anyone and everyone looking for a great read.
The characters, the setting, the story will all capture your attention and imagination and hold you from beginning to end - I assure you!
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