How to Stop Time by Matt Haig is a fantasy about a man aging slowly. And he’s tired. His past tragedies have prevented him from living in the present and so for much of the novel, he’s fairly stagnant and melancholy. The following book club questions will have spoilers, so if you haven’t read the novel yet, check out my preview and review first.
I’ll admit it took me longer than I expected to read How to Stop Time. I liked it but I kept waiting for something bigger with more adventure. But Haig had other ideas for his protagonist Tom Hazard. Tom has experienced a lot of hardships— losing his mother due to his condition and eventually his wife and daughter. He has all the time in the world but instead of embracing it, he wallows in self-pity and negativity.
However, despite all of that, there is an original story there that makes you think about what it means to live a life.
Let’s get into the book club questions.
- What were your expectations and impression of the novel?
- Tom is told by Hendrich of the Albatross Society that the primary rule is not to fall in love.
“You are, of course, allowed to love food and music and champagne and rare sunny afternoons in October. You can love the sight of waterfalls and the smell of old books, but the love of people is off limits.”
Why do you think Hendrich had this rule? Why is falling in love determintal to those like Tom? How did it allow Hendrich to control them? Also, what do you think Hendrich’s ultimate goal was?
- The book promises a love story but it isn’t anything resembling an epic romance like The Time Traveler’s Wife. Tom falls for Camille and she seems interested (and perplexed) by him but it’s not until the end that we find out they do fall in love. Did you want it to be more of a love story or did you like how it was more hinted?
- Throughout the novel, Tom’s focus is on finding his daughter. And when they finally meet, she’s not what he expected. What did you think of their meeting and interaction? Why do you think she turned out the way she did?
- Which time period were you most interested by? Which scene involving a famous figure (Shakespeare, Fitzgerald, Captain Cook) did you enjoy the most? Did you like the appearances of famous people?
- The story switches from the past to the present with each chapter. Did you enjoy the flow or were you confused at any point?
- Some of the themes include embracing change, letting go of one’s past and learning how to live a fulfilled life. What other themes did you pick up on?
- If you had Tom’s condition, how would you chose to live? Where would you live? What would you do?
- Do you think having the ability to live for centuries would be a blessing (like Hendrich) or curse (like Tom)? Why?
- How to Stop Time is slated to become a movie with Benedict Cumberbatch. Are you planning to see the movie? Which scenes do you think will most likely make the film?
Next on my TBR (to be read) list
Next on my reading list is Circe by Madeline Miller. I’ve heard so many great things about this book, I’m excited to dive in!
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