Chicklit Club



How to Stop Time - Matt Haig (2017)


Tom Hazard has been alive for a long time. Though he was born in the late 1400s, he looks like he's about 40 years old. He's not a supernatural being, however. Tom has a medical condition, where he ages very slowly. He's lived through the black plague and witch trials. He's met Shakespeare and F Scott Fitzgerald, and explored the new world with Captain Cook. He's fought in world wars, and played piano in 1920s jazz clubs.
Naturally, people who know Tom start to wonder why he doesn't age. With the help of a secret society, he starts a new life every decade or so. There's only one rule: Don't fall in love. Tom's newest identity as a history teacher in modern-day London is compromised, however, when he starts to fall for a woman named Camille. Torn between loneliness and the fear of being discovered, Tom wonders if he can somehow stop time and enjoy a normal life.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It would be easy for a story like this to be cheesy, but it's not; it's surprisingly believable. Tom's past adventures were fun and entertaining. I especially enjoyed Tom's time in England, working with Shakespeare. I think the author put a lot of time and effort into researching the various time periods Tom lived in.
But his modern-day identity as a history teacher could have been so much better. He seemed so tragic. Modern-day Tom is a sad character, prone to headaches, distraction, and self-pity. I found him hard to engage with at times. The love interest, Camille, felt flat. Tom describes her as special, someone who stands out, but I was left wondering why exactly. The ending also felt contrived and did not sufficiently suspend disbelief. Characters popped out of nowhere, with no real build-up or suspense. It felt as if the author was trying to quickly wrap up loose ends. However, despite some of the difficult aspects of this book, I really enjoyed the whimsical atmosphere. (CK)



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