Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Book Review: How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

The Blurb

'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.'

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'd never witnessed them first-hand. He can try to tame the past that is fast catching up with him. The only thing Tom must not do is fall in love.

How to Stop Time is a wild and bittersweet story about losing and finding yourself, about the certainty of change and about the lifetimes it can take to really learn how to live.

My Review

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Canongate Books for the ARC. How to Stop Time was published in July 2017, and I apologise for being so late with my review.

I have heard this book is being made into a film, with Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role. He's going to be brilliant as Tom Hazard.

When I read this, I saw David Tennant as Tom - well, to be more accurate, Tennant's Doctor Who. Without the timelordy stuff, like travelling backwards and forwards. Poor Tom can only go forwards, in real time, which must make his life a real drag over the past nine and a half centuries, and at the heart of it, is him never getting over the loss of his love.

The narrative is interspersed with the here and now, and flashes back to earlier times. This could make the story slow down, but it doesn't - the pace is timely and constant.

I love the time Tom spends as a teacher, telling the kids stories  - not from history books but from his own perspective. How amazing would it be to hear of Shakespeare first hand? The depth of writing, the life Haig brings to the pages immersed me into Tom's world. 
This is a beautiful story.

About the Author

Matt Haig is a British author for children and adults. His memoir Reasons to Stay Alive was a number one bestseller, staying in the British top ten for 46 weeks. His children's book A Boy Called Christmas was a runaway hit and is translated in over 25 languages. It is being made into a film by Studio Canal and The Guardian called it an 'instant classic'. His novels for adults include the award-winning The Radleys and The Humans.

He won the TV Book Club 'book of the series', and has been shortlisted for a Specsavers National Book Award. The Humans was chosen as a World Book Night title. His children's novels have won the Smarties Gold Medal, the Blue Peter Book of the Year, been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize and nominated for the Carnegie Medal three times. 

His books have received praise from Neil Gaiman, Stephen Fry, Jeanette Winterson, Joanne Harris, Patrick Ness, Ian Rankin and SJ Watson, among others. The Guardian summed up his writing as 'funny, clever and quite, quite lovely' by The Times and the New York Times called him 'a writer of great talent'.

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