How to stop time by Matt Haig

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Table of Contents

How to stop time was a book I have been wanting to read after I read the midnight library. 

But I’m not sure how I feel about it. It took everything in me to actually finish this book. I found the Main character Tom forgettable and boring.

Book name: How to stop time

Author: Matt Haig

Find more of the author here

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 352

How to stop time Plot( From goodreads):

“She smiled a soft, troubled smile and I felt the whole world slipping away, and I wanted to slip with it, to go wherever she was going… I had existed whole years without her, but that was all it had been. An existence. A book with no words.”

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Tom Hazard has just moved back to London, his old home, to settle down and become a high school history teacher. And on his first day at school, he meets a captivating French teacher at his school who seems fascinated by him. But Tom 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.

Unfortunately for Tom, 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.

How to Stop Time tells 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. It 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.

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

How to stop time Characters: 

Tom Hazard– Main character, In his 40s but has been living for almost 400 years. He has a condition called Anageria that makes you age slower. 

Hendrick– The book says he is way older than Tom but I’m not sure exactly how old. Hendrick is in charge of the albatross Society. The society is made up of individuals who have the similar condition. 

Camile– French teacher that Tom falls for 

Marion– Tom’s daughter. She has the same condition. 

Rose– Tom’s First love and Marion’s Mother

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I am a huge fan of the plot, which is one of the many reasons I picked this book up. It has a similar plot to The invisible Life of Addie La-rue. Another reason why I picked it up is because since the Midnight Library, I have been wanting to read another one of Matt Haig’s novels. It just so happened that I saw this was the one getting a T.V Adaption with Benedict Cumberbatch. So I knew I had to read it. 

Tom has been living for centuries. He has met Shakespeare and many other greats. However, His life has always felt empty after he met Rose, His first love. It was hard for them both during that time in the 1600s because as Rose aged, he didn’t. So they had to constantly move around to avoid the conspiracies that they were witches. Tom eventually decided to leave Rose and their baby girl Marion so they could live normally without people suspecting why tom doesn’t age.  

He learned his lesson from being with his mom. He had to watch her die because the town accused them of witchcraft when Tom never aged. When he went to visit rose again years later on her deathbed, she said that their daughter Marion had the similar condition and ran away as well. So now Tom is spending the rest of his years looking for his daughter. 


Character Development- 

I felt like for Tom to have lived so long he had to have gotten somewhere in finding his daughter. But he didn’t and I thought that was unrealistic because it has been centuries. Tom, to me at least, didn’t seem to have a personality at all. He is a very bland character with one motive to find his daughter. But it doesn’t even feel like he is trying. 

Also his relationship with Hendrick struck me as odd as well. I Tried to understand it from Tom’s point of view, him meeting someone with the same condition and being taken under his wing. Henrick has helped Tom out with creating identities for him every few years. But Henrick seemed like a bully, he was always telling Tom to not have relationships due to the condition he has. 

I also didn’t really understand Hendrick’s motive. Toward the end there was a shift in his behavior. Like all of a sudden he had this hatred for Tom and they were arch enemies or something. It just didn’t make sense. Was he jealous that Tom had a family, that he wanted to settle down and have a relationship with someone.

His rage for Tom came completely out of nowhere and wanting to attack everyone Tom loved. 


I did enjoy learning about Tom’s past and who he met along the way but the way it was written felt like a history lesson. I’m sure on the big screen It will be a much different visual seeing the time jumps play out. But I don’t think it worked well in the book if I’m being honest. 

Reading this felt very disconnected because rather than learn about the character and his relationships, his motives,and everything that comes with character development. We instead learn about the world around him 

It felt like every page was giving me a history lesson. 

I don’t mind the history so much as long as it makes sense but here it felt like it was added in just to support Tom’s narrative. His friendships with the people he met lacked substance.And It didn’t help with Tom’s character development at all.   

This book reminds me a lot of the invisible life of Addie la rue because of the time flashbacks to the present and connecting the two. But with How to stop Time, Those flashbacks were more of a distraction than anything. 

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Overall opinion

I really had a hard time reading this book because i kept putting it down just to pick it back up again because i thought “it has to pick up, it has to” 

And it somewhat did around the 200 page mark. Usually once I get to page 100 in a book that I find hard to read, I give up. But I really wanted to see this one through because I wanted to know if he found his daughter in the end.

Also how to stop time has been picked up for a tv adaptation and I have plans on watching that once it’s out. I can already visualize it in my head, benedict cumberbatch in time jumps with  different time period clothing pieces. Not sure if they started filming or not but the setting would probably take place in London and France.

Very excited to watch that. 

Again it has a similar theme to The invisible life of addie la rue, Though I believe this came out before that book. 

It’s always fascinating to see how the character navigates through the world when they have lived that long 

Tom’s motives- aside from finding his daughter just seemed so bland. So when Hendritch came along I was having a hard time justifying why he would just follow this man blindly. 

Was it because of companionship and he hasn’t had that in a long time or simply because he was glad to have a community of people like him. But for years he followed this man and believed him when he said he would help Tom get his daughter back. 

You’re telling me a man who has been around for centuries who can find anyone with the condition, a man with as many connections as he has, can’t find Tom’s daughter?

As soon as he was introduced I wrote ‘sus’ in my notes. 

I wish there was more explanation on the albatross society and the “albas’. The people who had this condition of ageing slowly. I’m still not sure I understand how it works. Tom ages every 15 years. So if he was, let’s say 16, he would be a 16 year old for at least 15 years? 

I enjoyed Tom’s happy ending with his daughter and his new wife. Also with him realizing that he had to let go of the fear of living. His mother and his first loves death really affected him. Tom also had to accept that times were different. Sure people are going to suspect if you don’t age but they aren’t going to accuse you of witchcraft. Having people think he was some kind of supernatural human because he never aged. 

But it still bothered me that for 400 years he never realized that before? In all that time? It was weird that he was still stuck in that mindset.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Historical fiction and time jumps.

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