How to Stop Time

- Matt Haig


“The first rule is that you don’t fall in love, ‘ he said… ‘There are other rules too, but that is the main one. No falling in love. No staying in love. No daydreaming of love. If you stick to this you will just about be okay.'”

A love story across the ages – and for the ages – about a man lost in time, the woman who could save him, and the lifetimes it can take to learn how to live

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. Tom has lived history–performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life.

So Tom moves back to London, his old home, to become a high school history teacher–the perfect job for someone who has witnessed the city’s history first hand. Better yet, a captivating French teacher at his school seems fascinated by him. But the Albatross Society, the secretive group which protects people like Tom, has one rule: never fall in love. As painful memories of his past and the erratic behavior of the Society’s watchful leader threaten to derail his new life and romance, the one thing he can’t have just happens to be the one thing that might save him. Tom will have to decide once and for all whether to remain stuck in the past, or finally begin living in the present.



I am old.


enjoyable/easy to read:
It’s very easy to get swept up in the storytelling of How to Stop Time because Haig knows how to weave a captivating tale throughout history.

This is the chief comfort of being four hundred and thirty-nine years old. You understand quite completely that the main lesson of history is: humans don't learn from history. The twenty-first century could still turn out to be a bad cover version of the twentieth, but what could we do? People's minds across the world were filling with utopias that could never overlap. It was a recipe for disaster, but, alas, a familiar one. Empathy was waning, as it often had. Peace was made of porcelain, as it always was.

There’s something so appealing about the thought of never aging, or aging incredibly slowly. Maybe not when you could be accused of witchcraft, but these days it would be pretty interesting knowing you’d be around for hundreds of years to see what happens. It would be a relief to see the path of history and not get caught up in the fear and anxiety of modern events. Although, Haig made sure to make the process as unappealing as possible with Tom as a vessel. He’s so depressed all the time. He wavers between the past and the present with no control, and you just know he would be the worst to be around. One wrong word and he’s triggered and living back in the past, seemingly ignoring the world around him. Omai is a much more attractive albatross.

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.

I think I liked the concept and Haig’s writing more than I liked the final result. There’s an inherent weakness to our protagonist that is hard to ignore. It takes him too long to find himself, particularly considering his advanced age. I understand fear and loneliness and their effect in stunting a character, especially with a history of trauma and abuse. But Tom ignores the truth in front of him for much too long.



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