How To Stop Time: evocative, compelling, thought-provoking
“Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret.
He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life. Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover – working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he’d never witnessed them first-hand. He can try and tame the past that is fast catching up with him.
The only thing Tom mustn’t do is fall in love.”
Having recently read Reasons to Stay Alive I knew I needed more Matt Haig in my life and when I saw this on Netgalley I REQUESTED IT SO FAST. I pondered it a while and when I was accepted I needed to find time to read it. (Luckily, May is my You MAY not buy any books month so I figured I could make a dent in my Netgalley bookshelves!). I am so glad I decided to request it and read it. It broke my heart. It put it back together again. It gave my literary nerd heart things to jump about. It inspired me. It taught me things.
Tom, a 41 year old man, isn’t like other 41 year olds. In fact he is centuries old. He suffers from a condition that means he’s been around for centuries and that he ages much slower than most people. This means that he’s lived through many centuries of change; through many rulers; on many different continents – but there’s one thing that stays the same, him. Through the book you go on a journey through his life, with flashbacks aplenty. You see his life as it is today – being a history teacher in London – and as it was all of the centuries ago. Through his life he met some literary greats – which pleased my heart so much – and battled through many hardships – disease, love, heart break, death. He’s a character I really had a fondness for: I was definitely sad to say goodbye to him when it came to the end of the book.
You get to meet people from Tom’s life and see how they each shaped him into becoming the man he is now. The woman he fell in love with; the man who saved his life; the friend he tries to save; the kids he teaches; the relationship he has with himself. Each and every person has an impact on our lives and these impacts should be something we are grateful for. People come into our lives and make an impression for a reason – they may not stick around forever but that impression they made on you can be.
I think everyone will take something different from this book – some will think of it as a romance novel, some will think of it as a gimpse into history, some an adventure. To me it was all of those things in one incredibly poignant novel. I can’t wait to read it again and pick up new things that I might’ve missed the first time round.
Bravo Matt Haig. I can’t wait to see what’s next. (And plus, it’s already been picked up for a movie… can’t wait for that!)
Have you read How To Stop Time?
What period of history would you travel back to if you could?
Let me know your answers in the comments, or on twitter (@eenalol).