cover image How to Stop Time

How to Stop Time

Matt Haig. Viking, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-0-525-52287-4

Tom Hazard doesn’t age. Or, he does, but very, very slowly. He was born in France in 1581, but like other “albatrosses” (those who carry the burden of living forever), a century to him passes like a decade or less. In this enthralling quest through time, Haig (Reasons to Stay Alive) follows his protagonist through the Renaissance up to “now,” when Tom works as a history teacher in London. As Tom goes on various recruiting missions for the Albatross Society, the setting of the story moves from Shakespeare’s Globe to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Paris to Bisbee, Ariz., and other far reaches of the earth. The main rule of the Albatross Society is that, in order to stay protected from a group of scientists who want to study and confirm the existence of the albatrosses, an albatross cannot fall in love. And yet, all the while, Tom nurses a broken heart and searches for his long lost daughter, Marion, who is also an albatross. “Humans don’t learn from history” is one of the lessons Tom learns, and, despite everything he witnesses over the expansiveness of history, nothing can cure him of lovesickness. His persistence through the centuries shows us that the quality of time matters more than the quantity lived. (Feb.)