Kel McGowan is Kelligrafie
How To Stop Time is a story about people that have unusually long life spans. I mean, ridiculously long.
Step forward Tom. Born in France, the year 1581. Now currently a history teacher in London. Every eight years or so, when the people around him begin to really notice that he isn't ageing at the same speed that they are, he has to move to a different area, or country even, taking up a new identity. This is made possible i.e. funded, by the Albatross Society. A collection of people with the same condition, that have built up their wealth over time (something they aren't exactly short of) and use it to help the members go incognito in an age where mobile phones and video cameras make anonymity all the more difficult.
Slowly Tom grows disillusioned with the society and with his life in general. He is sick of hiding, sick of running and he is desperately trying to find his only child, Marion, who has inherited the same rate of ageing. Hendrich, the owner of the Albatross Society, senses that he is close to revealing their secret and will do whatever it takes to silence Tom.
I really enjoyed my first read of 2018. It's not a beginning-middle-end kind of book. There is quite a bit of weaving between the past and present. But each chapter is the perfect length to not skip out on detail, but not overload you with new characters or minor details that aren't essential to the story line.
I'm also quite fond of Tom. He's not a superhero. He's just trying to get by in his overly long life and be as decent as he can be. But you really feel for him. Even though he's lived through great historical moments and meant important figures in time, there is still so much that he has to miss out on because his life is at risk, particularly during the witch trials era of Britain where he's under danger of being hanged or burnt at the stake for looking too young.
My only complaint is that I was a bit short changed by the ending. It felt rushed, underwhelming and I don't think it gives the main characters the real closure they deserve.
It's still a worthy read though and that bit of 'something different' that a lot of readers are searching for. Very satisfying.
File under: How To Stop Time, Matt Haig, book review