REVIEW: “How to Stop Time” – Matt Haig

Tom Hazard has a condition. He may look 41, but in reality he is over four hundred years old. He has travelled the world, befriended historical figures, and will live for centuries more yet. He has the world at his feet.

Unless he falls in love.

Instead of Tom’s near-immortality making him a deity, as each decade passes it pushes him further away from humanity. His place as an outsider is captured perfectly in Haig’s writing, as the world continues to change and Tom’s centuries’ of memories remain.

From the witty asides, to the poignant reflections on the enormity of time, I loved this book. Reading about Tom’s adventures through our history was engrossing, and, especially as a Shakespeare nerd, I devoured the chapters dedicated to his stint working at the Globe Theatre. Haig’s characters are engaging and so painfully real I wanted to sit down with them and share a pot of tea (excluding Hendrich, a sinister 900-year-old man whom I didn’t trust from the very first chapter).

This is so much more than a time-hopping romance, although if you’re a fan of a good love story this won’t disappoint either. Haig’s novel has a beautifully melancholic undercurrent as his protagonist deals with losing the people he cares about to the relentless passage of time. But there are also important and uplifting reminders of what gives life meaning. It is not the number of days, but the value of the time spent in those days that counts in the end.

“That’s the thing with time, isn’t it? It’s not all the same. Some days – some years – some decades – are empty. There is nothing to them. It’s just flat water. And then you come across a year, or even a day, or an afternoon. And it is everything. It is the whole thing.”

Tagged with: