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Friday, 8 December 2017

How to Stop Time @matthaig1 @canongatebooks

About How to Stop Time

HOW MANY LIFETIMES DOES IT TAKE TO LEARN HOW TO LIVE? Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old history teacher, but he's been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz-Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen it all. As long as he keeps changing his identity he can keep one step ahead of his past - and stay alive. The only thing he must not do is fall in love . . .

My review of How to Stop Time

How to Stop Time is such a beautiful book. I don't think I have ever read a book that so deeply and gently explores what it is to be human. Of how the past affects us on every level, of how it shapes our character, but that ultimately, in the end, it is the future that can change who we are. We are constant yet changing at the same time.

I honestly didn't know what to expect when I opened this book. I obviously knew that it was about Tom Hazard, a man who does not age like the rest of us, and that although he looks 42 he is actually over 400 years old. So, I expected it to be an exploration of history, and it is, but it is also so much more, it is about one man's search for who he is and how he must learn to live his again.

It is a book that works on so many different levels. It is a book about history,  I loved the chapters set in the past, and of how history is always present, always with us.  It is also a book about self discovery, about learning to love yourself, and it is also a book about the psychology of behaviour. That we all wear different hats and present different versions of who we are, depending upon the role we play. I remember my university drama professor telling us that life is all an act, that we are all pretending, and this is what Tom Hazard does throughout the book. He takes on different roles, different names in order to survive, and this is, in a sense, what we all do. We all play the game, and this novel beautifully illustrates this point, the fine line between our outward appearance and what we really feel. I've never read a book quite like it before. 

How to Stop Time is a fantastical novel but one that is firmly rooted in reality, dealing with issues of love, loss and learning how to live. It's an entertaining read, as he follow Tom's journey, observing how he engages with his students, and the community around him, when all he really wants is to be invisible. It is also about eternal love, and I felt that it was very much a timeless love story for the modern generation. It's a beautifully written book about the human condition that is simply quite stunning. 

How to Stop Time was published in hardback by Canongate Books on 6 July 2017. It will be available in paperback on 14th December, and can be found on Amazon here.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting, thank you, Jo. Waiting for the PB as 1) hardbacks though I love them are too expensive for me at the moment and 2) they also generally don't fit on my bookshelf in the proper alphabetic (by author) order...