How to Stop Time is the latest novel from Matt Haig, bestselling author of Humans and The Boy Who Saved Christmas.
‘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.’
It tells the story of Tom Hazard, whose life is the very opposite of the saying, ‘we’re here for a good time, not a long time’. Tom has been around for a long time, centuries in fact, and mostly, he hasn’t had a very good time. A rare condition means Tom ages dramatically slower than most humans, which isn’t as great as it initially sounds. For him, time is not a gift, it’s a dangerous burden.
From playing the lute for Shakespeare to setting sail on the high seas with Captain Cook, Tom has lived a million lives in his lifetime. Controlled by a secret, sinister society which claims to protect those with the condition, Tom is given a new identity and made to start a new life every eight years in order avoid suspicion.
Falling in love can be a risky business, but in Tom’s case, it can be fatal. Warned by the society not to disclose his secret and still heartbroken from death of the love of his life 400 years ago, Tom is unable to get close to anyone, and is lonely and deeply unhappy. It is only his determination to find his daughter, who he was separated from centuries ago, which keeps him going.
In his latest guise, Tom has become history teacher in a London secondary school, where he meets Camille, a free spirit who slowly encourages him not to fear the future.
A real masterpiece from Haig, How to Stop Time is funny and thought-provoking. It is a captivating cocktail of history, science and the supernatural, exploring the complex nature of humans. Haig’s characters and settings are beautifully defined and his insight into human emotion is heart-rending.
It explores themes of loss, love and pain, highlighting how, as humans, we torture ourselves with the past, letting it define our future. Haig’s message is clear – letting go can set you free.
So good is the premise that the film rights have been snapped up by Benedict Cumberbatch’s production company, with the Sherlock actor set to star in the film adaptation.
How to Save Time is one of those stories that stays with you long after you have finished reading. Deeply moving, witty and utterly compelling – a must-read.
Review copy supplied by Netgalley
Published on: 6 July 2017
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd