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Sunday Times Books LIVE

Book Bites: 3 September

Published in the Sunday Times

How to Stop TimeHow to Stop Time
Matt Haig, Canon
****
Book hug
Tom Hazard has anageria — a condition that causes him to age very slowly. So he might look as if he is 40 now but he is over 400 years old. Not a vampire, not a highlander — he is not immortal. There are rules though, as his mentor Henrich explains: “You are allowed to love food and music and champagne and rare sunny afternoons … but the love of people is off limits.” But Tom wants an ordinary life, one where he will find happiness, and so he chooses to live in London as a high-school history teacher. Except it reminds him of when he met Rose. Like The Time Traveler’s Wife, this works wonderfully as a modern take on a romance. It’s not too schmaltzy as Tom is a funny, dark character. – Jennifer Platt @Jenniferdplatt

The FriendThe Friend
Dorothy Koomson, Century
****
Book fling
Cece moves her three children to Brighton after her husband’s promotion. Her children’s new school is costly, cliquey, and has just become a crime scene. Yvonne, one of the parents, is found battered and left for dead in the school grounds. School mums Maxie, Anaya, and Hazel (Yvonne’s former friends) bring Cece into their fold. But police suspect that one or all were involved in the crime, and Cece starts to investigate her new friends. It is no easy trick to write a captivating read that bounces between the years as well as the main characters’ perspectives, but Koomson effortlessly carries it off, creating a fast-paced and absorbing read. -
Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

The Doll FuneralThe Doll Funeral
Kate Hamer, Faber & Faber
****
Book buff
There has been much anticipation for the follow-up to Kate Hamer’s extraordinary debut novel, The Girl in the Red Coat, and this meets every expectation. It centres around Ruby, who at 13 discovers that Mick and Barbara aren’t her real parents. Her search for her biological folks leads her into the forest where she discovers some children who will help solve her mysterious past. You’ll have to exercise patience and concentration; you’ll find yourself flipping back a few pages now and then for reference. However, the eventual outcome is worth every hour spent poring over this carefully crafted tale. – Jessica Levitt @jesslevitt

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