I thought this book was so amazingly good when I borrowed it from the library in 2018 that I had to buy my own copy! So this was a re-read, which confirmed my opinion. I’m not sure what genre it is – written in a contemporary style, but partly historical fiction with a fantasy element – and it doesn’t matter. All I know is that this book is brilliant.
The narrator is Tom Hazard, who in the present day is a 41-year-old history teacher at a London secondary school. However, he’s hundreds of years old. He met Shakespeare and Captain Cook and Samuel Johnson and the Fitzgeralds. He has a very rare condition which means he ages a lot slower than usual. The problem with living so long is that you always end up moving on when people get suspicious. And you certainly can’t become attached to anyone as it only causes heartbreak. Tom is falling in love with a colleague and he still hasn’t found his daughter, who inherited his condition. At the same time, his boss (who is the head of the society of these very long-lived people) is pressuring him into tracking down those who are drawing too much attention to themselves.
This book has everything you could want in a story. A good plot, distinctive characters, vivid settings, wry humour, neat observations and a bit of philosophy. Ironically, given the title, a surprising amount of time passes while you’re compulsively turning the pages.
First published in 2017.