Book Review: “Clarity in Time” by Margaret Hepworth
April 13, 2013
Title: Clarity in Time: A Philosophical and Psychological journeyAuthor: Margaret Hepworth (Author’s website) Publication: Balboa Press 2012Genre: General FictionPages: 329Price: Rs. 1108 (Buy from Bookadda.com) www.amazon.com
“If your life story was re-told would you be able to piece together the meaning that had always been there? “
The book opens with Nelson Mandela, as a fictional character, talking to his White jailer, Dirk Kortella, in a lonely prison cell in South Africa. Their conversations on life, humankind, God and liberty were confidential since, in an Apartheid state, the consequences of sharing thoughts and philosophy or anything with a Black man would be, for the loyalist, unfathomable.
While we wonder why Mandela welcomed us in the beginning, and what exactly is the theme of the novel, we are transported to the autumn of 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. Rosie O’ Dea, along with her younger siblings, Raf and Maisy, is on her way to attend a cousin’s wedding when her little black Mazda meets with an accident. Everything goes dark and silent. As we try to comprehend what has happened to the people inside the Mazda, Rosie goes into an ethereal dimension and continues to narrate the story: … “the crossing from this world to the next. It is a commonly held belief that your life flashes before your eyes.” The story of her life rewinds and begins to play. But strangely, moments from other people’s lives also begin to flash alongside with hers:
But something else was also happening. There! Flash! There again! Like snippets of film, other people’s lives, other people’s stories were playing in amongst my own. Some faces familiar, faces of history; others unknown to me, until now. How was this possible? Chronicles, epiphanies, secrets of history. Moments of clarity.
In the novel, we are taken back in time to where Rosie discusses monogamy and other concepts with her best friend Holloway (or ‘H’ as Rosie calls him) whom she wants to keep to herself; where she falls hard for her latest obsession — Jimmy; where she reads from and writes in her ‘Grand-daughter’s journal’ passed on to her by her grandmother; where she is on a road-trip with Maisy; and where her psychic powers are emerging. In between all of this and more, author Margaret Hepworth also takes us beyond time and space where Moses climbs a mountain to discover the message of God immersed in the simplest of words; where Albert Einstein chuckles at his scribblings on the board; and where at Lake Mungo, an aborigine man places the secrets of the universe in the hands of a six-year-old. We come across these and a few more moments of clarity in the book.
Yet the book is essentially about Rosie and the credibility her character displays. It is her credibility that makes us uncomfortable at several instances. But not because she is too different (she’s not), but because she is so like us and so easy to understand. Like most of us, Rosie, too, feels that she is made for something bigger than herself. May be most of us have, on occasions, wondered about the status of women in society or gay rights. We might also have discussed with a friend, while doing the dishes, the consequences of a nuclear war. Discussions on gang-rapes and climate change also must have made their way to our dining tables. Yet, more often than not, these discussions and conversations don’t translate into actions, for we don’t know the How-Tos. Rosie is like us — a spectator; a by-stander. But with epiphanies that she has, she decides to find the How-Tos and contribute her part to make the world a better place.
“Clarity in Time” captures the moments in which Rosie grows as a person. She is somewhere between an older sibling and a parent (she calls herself a “siblent”) to Raf and Maisy since, even though they all are siblings, Rosie and Adam (her elder brother) had a different childhood from that of Raf and Maisy. The difference was mainly a result of a different kind of parenting; or lack thereof.
While reading the book, we might want to tell Rosie to snap out of it and stop crying over a bad relationship and get on with her life, but because Rosie is so ‘real’ we know things such as heartbreak take their own time to heal. So we stay with her in her mourning. A girl falling hard for the wrong guy and then finding it hard to move on from him – it cannot get any more credible than that.
Hepworth writes with great fervour. Her humour is well-executed through Rosie’s dialogues and narration. Also, in her writing, one comes across moments of mystifying poignance and great romance. The novel is crafted into small segments that make it perfectly fine for the readers for whom sitting down with a book for a long period of time is too ambitious a thing to accomplish.
Margaret Hepworth’s “Clarity in Time” takes place in the ethereal state that lasts for only a few milliseconds after Rosie’s car accident. She narrates moments of clarity from her life and the lives of other people. The book is about how every moment in your life prepares you for a bigger moment that requires you to apply all the lessons you have learned over time before it.
This book is recommended to readers who like to pause for a moment or two in their daily lives to ponder over the philosophical and spiritual elements of life. “Clarity in Time” is a thought-provoking collection of those philosophical and spiritual elements.