How to Stop Time Hardcover – 6 July 2017
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"Hugely entertaining" (JOHN BOYNE Irish Times)
"Outlandish . . . heartwarming, perceptive prose" (ANITA SETHI Daily Telegraph)
"An imaginative, ambitious novel by an author with an infectious passion for history and the human condition" (Sunday Express)
"Haig writes exquisitely from the perspective of the heart-sore outsider, but at their most moving his novels reveal the unbearable beauty of ordinary life" (Guardian)
"Let Matt Haig take you on a journey . . . Brings every era to vibrant life . . . original and fascinating" (Stylist)
"Tear-jerking, time-hopping romance" (Mail on Sunday)
"A fabulous book" (STEPHEN FRY)
"How to Stop Time is a beautiful, and necessary book. I feel very lucky to have read it. It is magical, intriguing and at times, very sad. A triumph" (MARIAN KEYES)
"Absolutely terrific" (GRAHAM NORTON)
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Top reviews from United Kingdom
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If ever a book deserved 5 stars it's this one. I devoured this book and struggled to tear myself away from it but the kids needed feeding, the boyfriend needs attention & I suppose I had to sleep 😒
This book was so well written that I had to keep reminding myself I was reading a work of fiction and not an autobiography. I got completely caught up in Tom and his story. The author effortlessly took the story from present day to varying times in Tom's life but it never felt confusing or strange. You totally believed it.
The voice and atmosphere of each point in history was captured vividly and I could really see Tom there doing those things. Those little details, minute touches of information about things that actually happened, made it all the more real.
I loved this book so much I was genuinely sad for it to end. I could've kept reading about Tom's life for much longer. This is one of those rare books that changes your perception, makes you think about life in a different and stays with you long after you've read it. I know this is a book I'll read many times over.
Positives though, I enjoyed the early years, the time of witches, witch-finders and suspicion, and the evoking of British towns and cities at various times in history. Also the little insights into how people used to think, like rotten and blackened teeth were once a sign of prosperity, as those people could afford sugary treats. But it is to long, and it did feel a tiny bit preachy at times, and the current day stuff was very plain, rather dreary at times. So not all bad, just not that great either. Apparently Benedict Cumberbatch is attached to a possible film.
Parts I liked:
First - the good stuff. The historical sections were really interesting and opened up worlds I didn't know about; the part about the witch hunts and his mother were especially haunting and engaging. The premise is interesting and novel, almost like time-travel but without the narrative problems often encountered in time travel stories. It's an effective but simple concept that really makes you want to read it to find out what happens. Some of the writing is very beautiful and touching and there were parts which genuinely moved me - I found the part towards the beginning where Rose dies really heartbreaking.
The not so much parts:
Despite the good points, I often found it a chore to read. I can't really put my finger on exactly why - I just didn't really care about most of the characters (aside from what I've mentioned above). The main character in particular is exceptionally whiny. The premise is a good one but I don't think it has been executed in a very engaging way. I find with Matt Haig's writing I am often very aware of the authorial voice, which slips into ponderous/pretentious at numerous points. He is determined to tell the reader how to approach life, and he does this in quite a clunky way. Some of the lines are clearly meant to be breathtaking "oh I never thought of it like that" type lines, but I think this just takes the reader out of the story. All these added up to me giving up on the book - not really deliberately, but I just picked it up more and more infrequently and found it a chore whenever I did so, until eventually I just stopped picking it up. I like Matt Haig and I like some of his other books (in particular "Reasons to Stay Alive" which is wonderful). This just didn't do it for me, sorry.
In parts, it was quite fun for its depictions of different historical periods, its worldbuilding around the concept of these “albatrosses” as the long-lived ones call themselves, and its meditations on what he practical and psychological effects of a life like that would be.
But I thought it was pretty flawed in several ways. Firstly, it couldn’t resist the obvious trap of having the hero participate in far too many famous historical events and meet far too many famous historical people than was remotely believable. I was much more interested – and much more able to suspend belief – when it came to scenes of him living a normal life in medieval or Tudor times.
Secondly, after centuries of forsaking love, partly to avoid being hurt, partly due to the rules of his society, it was hard to see what suddenly attracted him to his modern day love interest. It felt rather sudden and forced. And thirdly, I found both her and modern day him so over-exaggeratedly right on in their interactions with each other and with the students at their school.
Overall, this had an interesting premise which it partially delivered on, but I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it.
Top reviews from other countries
For me it had been the embodiment of melancholy, which is no bad thing, I actually quite loved it. Of course, also my choice of music, helped with this feeling.
‚How to stop time‘ is like a song sung sadly by Lana Del Rey on an empy beach, while overlooking the waves on a night full of stars.
It teaches you that nothing is ever new and us humans are likely to never really change. Yes, we evolve, but at the core of the matter, we stay quite the same.
I really loved Tom, the main protagonist, and oftentimes could identify myself with him, eventhough I’m not as wise and old as he is.
Furthermore, I really loved the bits of history and that people (also famous ones) from the past, are becoming real and human. These are not just people from ‚back then‘, but had the some problems and issues as we have now.
Love is the leitmotif, as for almost everyone is is in their lives.
I really can’t just express how much I really and deeply loved reading this book, even though it oftentimes made me still and quite, contemplating my life and the choices I made, which is something very beautiful in itself.
Matt Heig is a really awesome and approachable writer and he did an awesome job!
“If you saw me, you would probably think I was about forty, but you would be very wrong. I am old – old in the way that a tree, or a quahog clam, or a Renaissance painting is old.”
Tom Hazard has what the famous Doctor Jonathan Hutchinson called “anageria”, which basically means he ages a lot slower than other people. He was born in 1581, grew up in a small English town. With puberty, he started noticing that people did not react well to his “condition” of ageing slowly, and thus starts moving around frequently and also changing his identity. Still quite young, he meets the love of his life, Rose, in 1603. Due to his condition, he eventually must leave her. In the current time, he works as a history teaching in current day London. The story goes back and forth between current and the past, and Haig slowly tells us most of Toms life story.
“And she died and I lived and a hole opened up, dark and bottomless, and I fell down and kept falling for centuries.” (p.27).
This book is beautifully written. Some sentences were so beautiful that I had to write them down to be able to go back sometimes to reread them. Although this book is not on time travel, I would still describe it a bit like a time travelers story. It is well written with intricate details and lots of interesting facts. I loved the relationship with Rose, and how Tom eventually learned to cope with losing her many centuries later. A remarkable book which I will recommend to many of my friends! Thank you Matt Haig for once again writing such a touching book.
astounding love story that lasts 400 years...Matt Haig takes on this challenge with gusto in How to Stop Time.This novel is a bighearted, wildly original story about losing and finding yourself, the inevitability of change, and how with enough time to learn, we just might find happiness, Matt has been gifted with a rare ability, which is to make even the ridiculously far fetched seem so believable.
The story is about Tom Hazard who has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41year old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries.For every 13 or 14 human years, he ages one year. But far from bringing him godlike pleasure, his condition places him at a mournful distance from the rest of humanity, doomed to see everyone he loves age and die.Tom Hazard serves as an excellent guide to the most recent 400-odd years of human history.Haig writes with a great deal of panache, and it’s clear that he’s having a lot of fun with his story.Tom has lived history performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life.So Tom moves back his to London, his old home, to become a high school history teacher,the perfect job for someone who has witnessed the city’s history first hand. Better yet, a captivating French teacher at his school seems fascinated by him. But the Albatross Society, the secretive group which protects people like Tom, has one rule: Never fall in love. As painful memories of his past and the erratic behavior of the Society’s watchful leader threaten to derail his new life and romance, the one thing he can’t have just happens to be the one thing that might save him. Tom will have to decide once and for all whether to remain stuck in the past, or finally begin living in the present.The idea of a character who lives for centuries, finding himself in the right place at the right time to interact with significant historical figures, has been used to examine the notion of time itself and our relationship to it, the fear of ageing, of death and, occasionally, the problems associated with not dying at all.
the most interesting element of the book, however, is the philosophical one that Tom asks of himself: What is the point of living when you have no one to live for? As his loneliness continues, only the possibility of a relationship with another teacher and his search for his daughter keep him going, and when it seems that both will end in failure it’s easy to understand why he, to employ one of Haig’s earlier titles, might run out of reasons to stay alive.How to Stop Time is a worthy addition to the time travel canon,hugely entertaining,quietly funny and,at its best moments, contemplative and brooding.
The answer is as simple as this - we must choose to live - in the Present...in the Moment...in the Now!
The book takes you on a journey through time. It contains pockets of emotions, that are difficult to explain. It's like those feelings that don't have a word in English to describe it.
I liked the characters Rose and Omai, who help in shaping, or transforming the protagonist into who he is. The story is best for those who has lost someone they love to time. Like Omai says "People you love never die." This is one of my favorite lines from the book.
I can see a sequel to this book. "How to move Time" featuring Marion ( the protagonist's badass daughter). She deserves a standalone novel.
Benedict Cumberbatch picked a great book for his film adaption planned to come out in 2018. I'm really excited to see this book come to life.