How to Stop Time Summary
A high-quality summary of Matt Haig´s book How to Stop Time, including chapter details and analysis of the main themes of the original book.
About the original How to Stop Time book:
Tom Hazard begins his first-person narration by giving an overview of his current situation. Even though he appears to be a typical 40-year-old man, he has been alive for centuries. He was born in France on March 3, 1581. His illness prevents him from maturing normally; he ages one year every 15 years or so.
Human superstition is just too common to prepare the general public for such facts. Anyone who have the sickness are protected by a group that hunts down and kills those who uncover the truth. Each member is asked to execute a duty on occasion as a sign of appreciation for the Albatross Society’s protection.
Frequently, these duties require seeking the assistance of those who share the same sickness or removing risks. Within the first few chapters, Tom is given such an assignment in Sri Lanka, but his target is already dead when he arrives.
How to Stop Time Summary is written by Condensed Books.
How to Stop Time Overview
Tom Hazard begins his first-person narration by outlining his current state of affairs. He may appear to be a normal 40-year-old man, yet he has been alive for centuries. On March 3, 1581, he was born in France. His disease stops him from maturing normally; every 15 years or so, he ages one year.
The mass population is unprepared for such information; human superstition is just too prevalent. Those who have the disease are shielded by an organization that eliminates those who discover the truth. As a token of appreciation for the Albatross Society’s protection, each member is required to complete a task on occasion.
These tasks frequently entail enlisting the help of people who have the same disease or eliminating hazards. Tom is assigned such an assignment in Sri Lanka inside the first few pages, but his victim is already dead when he arrives.
The story is separated into sections based on time and location. Each section takes place in a single location and timeframe, either in Tom’s present or history. Tom’s history is revealed through flashbacks from Elizabethan England to Golden Age Paris. He encounters Shakespeare while working at the Globe as a lutist. Later, in Paris, he drinks with F. Scott Fitzgerald and performs piano in a hotel restaurant.
Tom is haunted by the death of his mother at the hands of witchfinders, as well as his forced separation from his wife and daughter. Every few years, he leaves town and begins a new life under a new name, always fearful of being discovered and the consequences. Everyone he cares about is harmed or killed by his disease. As a result, he must remain apart.
The quest for Tom’s daughter Marion, who inherited his affliction and is also on the run from discovery, is the fundamental conflict and driving force behind his survival. Tom agrees to join the Albatross Society just to use their resources to track her down. Hendrich, the society’s founder and head, vows to find her and reunite them, but as the story progresses, Tom still hasn’t found her.
Tom’s terror of witchfinders and their modern equivalents, bio-scientists, is fueled by Hendrich. He keeps reminding Tom of a German institute that is aware of them and conducts research on the ones they capture. Superstition invariably leads to their being chased, cast out, or imprisoned, regardless of the period.
Tom’s present-day plotline follows him as he adjusts to life as a history teacher in modern London. As he battles the headaches produced by flashbacks that arise with each session, he fails to interest his students. Despite this, he falls in love with Camille, a French instructor. Camille is enthralled by him and is determined to unravel the mystery that surrounds him.
They become close, and Camille knows him from a photograph of a 1920s pianist that used to hang in her old office. Tom confides in her since he is unable to continue lying. Tom is aware that society will not allow her to live now that she is aware of their existence, and he is continuously concerned about her safety while on another assignment.
Hendrich demands that Tom bring in Omai, an old acquaintance who suffers from the same ailment. Omai winds up in Australia, where he surfs the waves and attracts too much attention.
Tom must persuade him to join the society and be protected by them. Omai flatly refuses. He’s had enough of the falsehoods and wants to be himself. Tom is well aware that Hendrich will not allow him to be alone. Hendrich and Tom are afraid of witchfinders and scientists, while Omai regards fear as a prison. He encourages Tom to pursue his happiness while being free.
As time passes, the portions become shorter, building to a climactic crescendo. When Tom recognizes Hendrich as the villain, the game changes. Marion reappears and confronts Tom, accusing him of leaving her when she was a child. Hendrich locates Marion but keeps it a secret from Tom. Instead, he dupes Marion into thinking Tom abandoned her because he didn’t want her.
Tom’s entire world comes crashing down around him. He tells the truth to Hendrich, but Marion is enraged. As Hendrich pours gasoline on Omai’s house, she shoots him. He sets himself ablaze and walks off the edge of a cliff into the sea.
In the conclusion, Omai continues to surf the Australian waves; Tom goes to London and reconciles with Camille; Marion pays a visit to Tom but prefers to be away from the city. Tom eventually discovers contentment in the present and lives at the moment after 400 years. He is incapable of fearing or worrying about the future. It’s impossible to avoid change.