Review of 'How to Stop Time'

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

how_to_stop_time.jpg Tom Howard, now teaching History in a London school was actually born in France 1581. He has an affliction that causes him to age extremely slowly so while not immortal he will live for many hundreds of years, very slowing getting old and then, eventually, dying. He is not the only one. The Albatross Society - “albatross” after the long wing-spanned bird - run by a man called Hendrich offers him a deal that will provide a new identity and home every eight years, roughly the amount of time it takes for people to start to notice you are not aging, in exchange for one small favour which normally consists of persuading more individuals like yourself to join the society. Hendrich calls normal humans “mayflies” as they have such short lifespans. There are only a few rules in the society but number one is never to fall in love - enjoy life but never give your heart away. Howard did this several centuries ago and still bears the scars. In his new life as a teacher it may be happening again…

Another interesting read from Matt Haig which focuses on the question of what it means to live rather than simply survive. Through chapters alternating between the present and the past, Howard's live is laid bare with all of the pain and joy he has experienced over the years with even the occasional bit of poetry thrown in. It is perhaps an unsubtle moral here but one that Howard takes a long time to learn with the ending perhaps not too much in doubt but the circumstances very much so.

A very real book that talks both about human frailty and passion in a relaxed way which also features some interesting interactions with history and historical characters such as William Shakespeare. Though it does tend to drag a bit, “How to Stop Time” is an easy read that despite the numerous switching between timelines is simple to follow and really get attached to the very human Howard.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2023-01-15

Genre: General Fiction

Publisher: Canongate Books

Publication Date: 2017

ISBN: 9781782118640

Other reviewed books by Matt Haig: