HOW MANY LIFETIMES DOES IT TAKE TO LEARN HOW TO LIVE?
Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old history teacher, but he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz-Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen it all. As long as he keeps changing his identity he can keep one step ahead of his past – and stay alive. The only thing he must not do is fall in love . . .
My reading experience:
An unusual tale – part historical fiction, part fantasy, but definitely 100% Matt Haig.
I am drawn to fantasy tales about time, memory loss, time travel, unusual human conditions, and so this book really appealed to me. I had no expectations and was more than pleasantly surprised. A tad wooden in places this was more than made up for by the “reality” in the fantasy – the observations of the general human condition, and the conjecture of what a very long life could do to your sanity.
Tom has been alive for around 400 years but looks about 41. Who hasn’t felt like that at some point? Anyway, Tom is trying to find someone, it’s his raison d’etre. It pushes him on day by day and where ghosts of past ‘lives’ haunt him, it shields him from thoughts of ending his often seemingly miserable eternity. Have you ever walked down the streets of your childhood? Of course some of us have and know how memories flood in and cause you to feel all sorts of emotions – nostalgia is a powerful thing.
So without spoilers, I would say that apart from the fact I wish I’d seen Chris Riddell’s illustrated version first (in my list to buy), I highly recommend this book. It makes you laugh out loud, and it makes you contemplative. This would be top of my ‘Reading for wellbeing’ list if I made one – there’s a thought. Enjoy experiencing a range of emotions and epiphanies.
Themes: human condition, time, long life, love, loss, betrayal, history, reading for wellbeing, mindfulness, loneliness, truth