While people who visit other countries usually come back with souvenirs, and quite often truckloads of clothes, I predictably came back with a lot of books – I went with 4 and came back with 12, plus a nice writing journal, a wine journal, and a recipe journal. One of the books I bought while in England was Mitch Albom’s latest work of fiction, The Time Keeper, and I read it entirely on two train trips – from Derby to Durham, and then back again a couple of days later.
The idea behind this story captured me perhaps more than any of Albom’s previous fiction (generally I prefer his nonfiction work such as Tuesdays With Morrie, which is apparently one of the best-selling memoirs of all time), and as the title suggests it revolves around the concept of time. It begins by telling the story of Dor, the inventor of the very first clock, the first person to begin counting time, and the person who becomes Father Time as a consequence (and, seemingly, as a punishment). The beginning of his story is set in biblical times, based loosely within The Tower of Babel story. Meanwhile, two separate stories develop in the modern day – a rich business man who feels he doesn’t have enough time and yearns to live forever by cryogenically freezing himself in secret from those he loves, and a teenage girl who wants to bring her time to an end prematurely. Slowly but surely, these three stories entwine and crash into each other, with quite inspiring results.
As always, the book is simply written, making it easy to read and digest in the space of an afternoon. But despite this accessibility, it is also very clever and thought provoking, questioning the human obsession with time, and how this causes us more misery and suffering than joy. I must admit that after reading it, I thought about how much time, and quite literally clocks, are everywhere in my life, and being a school teacher my day is dictated by bells that go off at very specific times. I am always at my happiest when I have days off, don’t set alarms, and can do things without rushing or feeling the pressure of having more to do – and I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way.
Personally, this is my favourite of Albom’s fiction books so far. It really captured both my imagination and my intellect, and while it seems sad in a lot of ways, the ending is quite satisfying and uplifting. If you’re a fan of his other work, you will no doubt like this, however if you’re new to Mitch Albom I would recommend starting with Tuesdays With Morrie first – his writing style is probably not for everyone.
If you’ve read The Time Keeper, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!
What books have you been reading lately?