The moment I heard about the latest novel from Matt Haig, it became one of my most anticipated reads for 2017. I am a big fan of Matt’s writing having previously enjoyed The Humans along with one of his children’s stories, A Boy Called Christmas. Published on 6th July, How To Stop Time is an extraordinary story of a life that spans over centuries. I was really excited about this premise and also to hear that the film rights had already been acquired. As a result I had high expectations for this book, and it didn’t disappoint…
In How To Stop Time we meet Tom Hazard. Tom looks like a regular forty-something man, but in fact he has a secret. Tom has actually been alive for centuries as a result of a rare condition which slows the aging process. And as we discover through the course of this novel, Tom has lived through and seen a lot. In order to conceal his condition and to not arouse any suspicion, Tom must switch identities when necessary – new homes and new jobs, a fresh start. But this comes at a cost and it leaves Tom unable to form longstanding relationships, to not fall in love. And as the story switches back and forth through time we learn a lot about Tom and his extraordinary life, and see the moments, and the individuals who helped to shape it. We get a glimpse into a past, of hundreds of years of history lingering in Tom’s mind, a past he must try not to dwell on. From the opening pages I was gripped by this story, and excited to discover more about Tom’s history, not knowing who or what he might come across next.
I loved the premise of this story and the fact that in the present day Tom has taken on the identity of a history teacher, in which he is able to provide fascinating insight into the past that he witnessed firsthand. Along the way we come across some familiar historical figures which added to the story and helped establish the sense of time and place. The teaching is also an effective way to prompt Tom’s history as certain topics hold uncomfortable memories for him as he struggles to tame the physical and emotional burden of having lived for such a long time. And through Tom’s life Matt Haig has written a beautiful and thought provoking story of human life. Through Tom’s condition this story examines the fragility of human life in all its intricacies, all of the things that are most crucial to us. As we see a man who has lived and loved and lost, it leaves you to ponder our own lives and how we live them. How we can find out who we really are and what we value most. Through the use of time it explores how important and precious our time can be, and the things that make life so special. Haig writes so perfectly about human emotion, and has captured moments of joy and sadness, of love and hope – life and death and everything in between. I was captivated by this story and whilst I managed to read this very quickly, I savoured every word and every detail of this special book.
How To Stop Time is a wonderful book and is sure to be one of my books of the year. It is a fascinating story of a remarkable life, in which we see one man’s journey through the past, and how he learns to accept his future. I am now excited to see how Tom’s story is portrayed on the big screen!