How to Stop Time by Matt Haig ★★★★☆ #bookreview

“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.”

35411685This is a story about a man that, due to a rare condition, has been alive for centuries. He is immune to disease and only a violent act would end his life before his natural life span of approximately 950 years old. His body only ages about 1 year for every 15 years of life. Due to the extremely slow changes to his appearance, suspicion follows him everywhere. As a child, in the 1500s, his mother was accused of being a witch. His wife and child were also treated with hostility. He eventually had to leave his wife and child for their own safety. The loss of his family crushes him for centuries. So he wanders for 400+ years never finding happiness – refusing to love again because of the pain it ultimately causes everyone involved. The only thing that has kept him from taking his own life is knowing that his daughter has inherited his condition and he wants to find her.

Since he lives beyond the life span of his peers and never seems to age, he realizes he has to relocate and reinvent himself every 8 years or so to avoid questions. His life has taken him to Globe Theatre with Shakespeare, he has met F. Scott Fitzgerald, and he has even explored with Captain Cook. But now, in his present day reinvention of himself, he is ready to experience life at a less adventurous pace and has decided to use his experience in life to become a history teacher in London. He has lived a lonely life to protect himself from love… but he meets the French teacher at his school and they are becoming close. Can he love again?

Clearly this book isn’t for everyone. If you read other reviews people either seem to love this book or they hate it. I’m the former. I really enjoyed it! Yes, as with any time travel book there is an element of “suspension of belief” required, but I bought into the story completely! This was a book about loneliness, love, fear, hate, sadness, happiness, adventure, boredom, and choices. I’ve read other reviews saying they thought the book was slow and boring at times – and I actually agree. BUT, I think that slowness, that boredom, helped me to envision what life was like for the main character. Can you imagine living centuries and not thinking large periods of time are extremely dull? Maybe I’m crediting the author with something unintended, but I felt the slower parts of the book were deliberate and purposeful to evoke emotion in the reader.

“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 is 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 enjoy Haig’s ability to tell a great story. This is the first book of his I have read and I look forward to reading more.

Published February 6, 2018 by Viking (first published July 6, 2017 by Canongate Books)

My rating – 4 out of 5

If you are interested in purchasing this book please consider clicking the image below. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks!