How To Stop Time - Matt Haig

Matt Haig's memoir 'Reasons To Stay Alive' was hailed as THE book of 2016, and his recent foray into fiction has been pinned around London Tube stops everywhere, with Benedict Cumberbatch signed up for the film already. Naturally, we had to check it out... 

Let's have the blurb, shall we?
Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41 year old, but owing to a rare condition, he's been alive for centuries.

From Elizabethan England to Jazz Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life.

Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover - working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he's never witness them first-hand. He can try to tame the past that is fast catching up with him. The only thing Tom just not do is fall in love.

The Blonde Bookworm review:

The idea of time is one that is at the back of everyone's minds - how much we have, how little of it we have, how fast it goes. It's something we cannot control, no matter how hard we try. 'How To Stop Time' toys with the idea of having all the time in the world, but no one to share it with.

The desperate loneliness that comes with being able to have it all, but having to leave each life behind as the ones you love fall victim to time itself.

Tom, fundamentally, is lonely. His time roaming the world, experiencing history as it happens, is not something he enjoys. He states 'it occurred to me that human beings didn't live beyond a hundred because they simply weren't up to it... the world becomes a cycle, and the news stopped being new'. 

This line resonated with the world we live in today, showing that as human beings we never learn from our mistakes (Trump/Hitler anyone...), and to live beyond a hundred is simply to see the world making the same errors as it made years before it.

Love can't be ignored in the novel, with Haig heralding it as the one thing that can cure Tom of his acute loneliness, but like anything, the one thing he simply cannot have. Whether it's trying to find his beloved daughter from the 1600s who has the same condition as him, or running away from his feelings for the music teacher at his school, it consumes his mind constantly. Tom's awkward behaviour throughout is somewhat off-putting, and made me feel he would surely blow his cover more than once, but as they say, love makes fools of us all...

Haig's personal struggle with depression and the role digital society plays in our mental health seeps through the pages, with one particular rant stating that 'the role of marketing is now to tie the economy to our emotions' forcing us to buy things we don't need. An honest statement that is very true in a world obsessed with smartphones (and I guiltily put my own phone away a little more after reading this book)...

'How To Stop Time' is a beautiful narrative with little gems of sentences weaved into the prose, making you yearn for each magical century Tom lives in, but ache for him to finally find happiness in the world he now has to live in.

The tube adverts live up to the hype.

Read if you...

Fantasise about living in the golden eras of the past, love a romance, and want to read the book before the inevitably successful film comes out so you can say you got there first.


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