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Published: 6 July 2017

My thanks to Canongate Books & Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book

Description:

I am old. That is the first thing to tell you. The thing you are least likely to believe. If you saw me you would probably think I was about forty, but you would be very wrong.

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.

How to Stop Time is a wild and bittersweet story about losing and finding yourself, about the certainty of change and about the lifetimes it can take to really learn how to live.

My Thoughts & Review:

“How to Stop Time” has to be one of the most wonderful and beautiful reads of 2017 so far, from the moment I started reading I was fully invested in the tale of Tom Hazard and barely managed to stop reading before bedtime.

There is a magic in the way that Matt Haig writes, picking up any of his books allows the reader an escape into whatever world is being conjured – whether it’s modern time or Elizabethan England and there’s certainly ample atmospheric detail to make the reader feel that they are right there in the moment with Tom.

Tom is an interesting character, who by his own admission is cursed with an affliction that means he ages at a slower rate than the rest of humanity.  Whether it is a curse or a blessing, it has allowed him to live a life that means he has observed some of the turning points in history, and thus has a unique outlook when it comes to certain things.  Weaving through the fabric of Tom’s life, the reader is given glimpses at the threads that make up this character, his time in Elizabethan England, his voyages to the South Pacific and the people he meets along the way.  Each new acquaintance has their own tale to tell, and each leaves an impression on Tom.

This is very much a story that captures the imagination of the reader, and perhaps for some their heart too.  I found the historical aspects of the plot were fascinating, they were brought alive through Haig’s skilful writing, the mystery element was tantalisingly addictive, the story was poignant and utterly brilliant.

I cannot recommend this “How to Stop Time” highly enough, there is something very special about this book, the story and Tom Hazard stay with you long after reading this. Other readers may take something different from this book, and I think that reading groups may well enjoy this one for the questions that it throws up about the unpredictability of humans, the idea of living in a moment as opposed to living within the confines of an anxious mind worrying about the past or what might happen in the future etc.

And that cover….well it’s just beautiful.

You can buy a copy of “How to Stop Time” via:

Canongate
Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository

About the Author:

Matt Haig was born in 1975. His debut novel, The Last Family in England, was a UK bestseller. The Dead Fathers Club, an update of Hamlet featuring an eleven-year-old boy, and The Possession of Mr Cave, a horror story about an overprotective father, are being made into films and have been translated into numerous languages. He is also the author of the award winning children’s novel Shadow Forest, and its sequel, The Runaway Troll. A film of The Radleys is in production with Alfonso Cuaron. Matt has lived in London and Spain, and now lives in York with the writer Andrea Semple and their two children.

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