How to Stop Time Hardcover – 6 Jul 2017
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"A rollicking time-hopping fantasy . . . How to Stop Time will provoke wonder and delight" (Observer)
"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)
"My favourite book of this year, and most others. A dazzling read. Time stopped still" (DANNY WALLACE)
"Compelling and full of life's big questions, How to Stop Time is a book you will not be able to put down" (GRAEME SIMSION, author of THE ROSIE PROJECT)
"Strange and brilliant and heartfelt" (JENNY COLGAN)
"It's not easy to write a book that's simultaneously fun and serious and gripping and simple and profound, but Matt Haig manages it again and again. How to Stop Time is just brilliant" (GAVIN EXTENCE, author of THE UNIVERSE VERUS ALEX WOODS)
"Matt Haig is a writer for children and adults who is adept at digging into the human heart" (Sunday Times)
"Full of Haig's trademark humour and humanity. It is a wonderfully entertaining ride through centuries of adventure with a gloriously heart-warming message. A must read" (Sunday Mirror)
"Halt everything to read Matt Haig's How to Stop Time . . . A tale that makes you fall in love with reading all over again *****" (The Sun)
"An ambitious plot is deftly handled in this exquisitely written novel. A joy! *****" (Heat Magazine)
"Engrossing . . . A book to relish" (Metro)
"An exploration of how to make peace with one's past in a world where time seems to rush past faster than ever" (Sunday Post)
"A moving tale of regret and redemption" (Psychologies)
"A tender, affecting novel about Tom Hazard, who's lived for 400 years. He's got it all under control as long as he doesn't fall in love. Guess what happens next?" (Red, 2017’s best summer reads)
"The narrator is 400 years old, but the sardonic asides give this pacy novel a modern twist. Matt Haig has designs on our heartstrings . . . The energy and zip of this book are hard to resist" (Hermione Eyre Guardian)
"A completely wonderful book" (JOANNA CANNON, author of THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP)
"A refreshing exploration of how to make peace with one's past selves" (The Herald)
"Goodness. What a stunning book. Brilliant, beautiful and mindbendingly magnificent" (JILL MANSELL)
"A love story for the ages . . . A fresh spin on familiar ideas and, at its best, gets to the heart of what defines us as human" (iNews)
"Inventive, exciting, moving and bursting with insight about history, time and what it is to be human" (KATE WILLIAMS, author of THE PLEASURES OF MEN)
The life-affirming new novel from the number one bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and The HumansSee all Product description
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Top customer reviews
The book tells Tom's story and the chapters alternate between his past and his present. We see him with a cast of characters from the history books, travelling the world, until he settles down as a history teacher in a London school where his experiences allow him to make the subject come alive.
Saying more about the story would lead to spoilers, so I'll leave it there. It's a lovely book, full of wonderful observations about life and love - the kind of book you want to read bits out to people close to you - and as well as giving a bit of a rosy glow it's funny, exciting, and the pages fly by.
The book is essentially what it says on the tin: Tom Hazard is 439 years old, born in Elizabethan times and still kicking in the 21st century, ageing about a year for every decade that passes. Yet, for all the years he's lived and all the people he's met, he lives a lonely life, never able to stay in the same place too long, never able to love without fear. Anyway, the novel begins as he's about to start a new job as a history teacher in modern London.
Although the book is quite plot-driven, it's still very contemplative, flitting between Tom's life in the present and his memories of the past as he reflects on his existence and the nature of time. However, whilst some readers might find what Tom has to say about the human condition touching and profound... I have to say I found it all a bit over-earnest, sometimes trite. And rather than giving the protagonist more depth, I felt that these passages of reflection read so clearly as Haig's own musings, rather than thoughts particular to the character. By the end of the novel, Tom seemed essentially a vessel for plot and Haig's series of lectures on life than a character in his own right. Sometimes I just wanted the plot to move forward, but instead was faced with another lecture about humanity's obsession with time. And in the world of social media, where everyone is always trying to share their life's wisdom, I found none of these observations especially fresh - I'd read it all before somewhere else.
The book is also, unfortunately, ridden with cringey clichés and coincidences. There were a lot of lines in there that I'm sure I've heard in about 100 films, but the plot especially seemed driven by clichés (I'm trying not to be too spoilery but skip this paragraph if you really don't want anything given away). There was the smart kid who got in with the wrong crowd, but a motivational speech from his teacher (see above) and he's turned around. And the love interest who hears "Don't worry, she's no-one," out of context, assumes the worst and ta-dah, you have narrative conflict. The You Knew All Along!? twist (I saw this one coming from miles away). At a certain point in the book, I kind of knew how it was going to end because, despite a promising premise, Haig had so far failed to do anything particularly adventurous with the plot, and so I could only assume it was going to be tied up exactly the way I was expecting it to be. And it was going to be So Affirming.
Character-wise... I have to say that virtually all the characters pertained to some kind of cliché themselves, particularly the women. The women weren't offensively written, but they were clearly the efforts of a man who's trying too hard to write strong, intelligent female characters, to the point that they all come out rather uniform and stale. Haig has clearly made a point of trying to write smart, believable women who can stand on their own two feet etc, etc, but his attempts to do that resulted in a series of female characters who all ultimately read the same. Intelligent, strong-willed, quick-witted. There are more convincing ways of writing women than just trying to write them as you think they'd want to be written. Characters have to be more complex than that.
Ultimately, I just feel like this book could've been more? I'd have loved to hear in greater detail about Tom's past lives in other countries, I'd have liked the conclusion to have been a less rushed, I'd have liked to hear more about the lives of Hendrich, Omai and Marion. And less name-dropping of random historical figures who pop up here and there like they might in a kids' time travel movie (I was not a fan of *spoiler* the appearances from the bard). I think there are a lot of people who will like the life lessons and the simple plot, but I was hoping Haig would be more adventurous.
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I liked the concept that someone could live so long and have the experience and knowledge...Read more