How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

by - January 22, 2018

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 behaviour 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.

How to Stop Time is a bighearted, wildly original novel about losing and finding yourself, the inevitability of change, and how with enough time to learn, we just might find happiness.


There are many ways to explain how I felt while reading this book. I felt love, sadness, longing and anxiety, all wrapped up in 336 pages. Oddly enough, one of the main themes of this book is nostalgia and how our past memories can influence the character we become in our personal life story. There is no doubt that Matt designed a masterpiece that could leave any reader dramatically in love. The writing was extraordinary, a trait that dripped off of each page. Matt is one of the most poetic and beautiful writers I've read so far, which made this slow read much more entertaining. 

Tom was initially hard to relate to. Not because he was a grown man. I discovered a while later that Matt had truly created a character that you could just tell lived many lives, through many decades. He was an old soul, a person in love with how simple the world used to be and yet bared the scars to prove that he had truly felt pain during these simpler times. He felt loss and love throughout his life, experiences that ultimately influenced the man he grew up to be. 

Despite loving how deep this character went, I found myself steadily drifting off. Not because the writing hadn't intrigued me. Seriously, Matt Haig is a writer in it's truest form. But, there was so much living to read through. Tom had many interesting and influential memories that just had to be told. But, there were a few memories that honestly could have been left out. The storyline drifted from the point at times, which I could understand because I didn't see one specific point of this novel. 

The description and promotion for the book made it seem like a love story - an epic one at that. But, to be clear for future readers, this is not only a love story. In fact, the 'love' aspect of this story is subtle. It takes a backseat in many parts of the story, allowing the true story to shine. Tom is the story. His quest in life is to find his daughter but in a large way, I felt like Tom's story was about finally belonging. The world had changed, his family has been stripped away from him and he was an anomaly that was encouraged to hide his extraordinary ability. Yes, I understand the secrecy. You have to understand why he chose loneliness in-order to understand who Tom is. Loneliness had become him and as he dove into his past, he allowed us to see why he had become the man he is today. 

The ending took me by surprise because it was all neatly wrapped up in the space of a few chapters. I had walked miles with Tom by this point, which included love stories, famous meetings with great writers and lonely walks in the park with a lovable dog. I simply wanted all of this history and effort to matter in an extraordinary way. The writer clearly knew his history throughout this book, showing off his knowledge on almost every page. And this is why I wanted epic. I needed an epic ending. 

It's a slow read, one that deserves long rainy evenings with a good cup of something warm beside you. Tom might be a bit hard to relate to at first but settle in, let the creativity and pure talent of the writer take you away. 

Book was sent to me by Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

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