How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

Kath's Bookshelf / Saturday, December 30th, 2017

After reading and loving and always recommending Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive, I have been meaning to read one of his works of fiction for a long time. Last year I s-u-c-k-e-d at reading and so, inevitably, this didn’t happen… until this month. I have finished 2017 on a fictional high (and ready to take on a year-long reading challenge in a couple of days!), thanks to How to Stop Time by Matt Haig. After pointing it out to my boyfriend every time we passed a bookshop in the last few months, it appears Aaron got the hint and he gifted me with the perfect Lay by the Christmas Tree with a Box of Chocolates read.

How to Stop Time tells the very long─as in, centuries long─story of Tom Hazard. In the book’s present time, the truly ancient history teacher has created himself a new life, yet again. Our protagonist isn’t immortal but he is hundreds and hundreds of years old. He ages years and years slower than the rest of us; us mayflies. Now teaching in London, we learn of his extensive past and feel his desire to find his daughter; his daughter, Marion, who was, too, born an alba. From the offset we understand Tom’s reason to stay alive is the prospect of Marion still being alive. Hendrich, a member of The Albatross Society that “protects” those who age like Tom, has spent centuries promising Tom that he will find his daughter. We empathise with Tom’s struggles with the society as we ache for his past alongside him; we, however, hope for his future too.

After just a few chapters I rolled my eyes at my past self (that is far younger than Tom Hazard’s). How have I not read any of Haig’s fiction before? I’ve never known what my favourite genre of book is but I can say with certainty that whatever genre How to Stop Time is, is surely my favourite. It’s fantasy and it’s romance with sprinkles of thriller and history- even if it’s fictional! We empathise with our protagonist; he’s living a life he didn’t ask for and one he doesn’t feel too grateful for. His “condition” means he’s seen more than anyone’s fair share of heartbreak and his sadness, for this reason, is felt with every word written. Despite sometimes questioning his choices and the sorrow he quite clearly feels, I, as a reader truly hoped he’d find his very own happily ever after.

How to Stop Time is unlike any book I’ve read before. It ticks the “page-turner” qualification of a 10/10 book with every page turned. I’ve spent the last few days super excited to finish work to delve into the centuries of stories Tom Hazard has lived. If you’re um-ing and urr-ing about what book should kick off your New Year then I highly recommend that you go and pick up this one.

~ Kat ~

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