The Thief of Time
Matthieu Zela was born in Paris in 1743 - which means he's now 256 in 1999. When he was around 50 he quit aging and has lived since. He has lived in England, Europe, and the United States in his lifetime. He has been married numerous times and lost wives through death or divorce. He never has had any children of his own, but has a succession of nephews all named Tom or Tommy and all dying in their 20's. The current Tommy is a big soap opera star on the BBC and a drug addict. His girlfriend is pregnant. Matthieu is certain that means the current Tommy is doomed to die shortly.
Matthieu, 16 years old, and his young brother Thom left Paris when Matthieu's step-father, Thom's father, was hanged for killing their mother in a fit of rage. On the road they meet Dominique and take a ship across the channel to Dover. From there they head towards London. Matthieu falls in love with Dominique the day they meet. All these years later he still remembers his first and most intense love.
This is Matthieu's memoir, going back and forth between highlights from his past and the happenings in the present. He is a partial owner of a television network that is a BBC competitor. Between Tommy's constant troubles and his television network he keeps busy. Will he be able to save the current Tommy? What will the new Millenium hold for a man who has lived two and a half centuries?
The Thief of Time captures the reader's imagination. Matthieu doesn't claim to be immortal - he just seems to have stopped aging. During his life he is involved in the background of supporting the arts. He is commissioned to build an opera house in Rome. He is involved with the opening of the Crystal Palace in 1850's London. He goes to Hollywood in the 1920's to become involved with financing in the movie industry. He is an NBC executive during the McCarthy era.
The novel has two continuing threads - the present and when he,Thom, and Dominique first get started after fleeing Paris and go to England. In between those stories many others weave in and out, showing highlights of Matthieu's life. John Boyne carefully pulls the story together in what may seem like random memories. These memories come together to show not only the changing of a man's life as he grows older in years if not physically, but of the world and the world view. When the trio first leave Dover in the ealy 1760's, they think little of walking the 80 miles from Dover to London. Now people won't walk 8 miles if they can ride instead. Yet people, their lives, and their emotions remain unchanged in essence.
The Thief of Time is a good read that interests the reader. It is a good length, although I would have liked to know more of Matthieu's past stories. The contrast between Matthieu's long life and the Tommys' short lives is vivid and touching.
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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