An engrossing and utterly absorbing read, The Thief of Time introduces a storyteller of rare distinction. It is 1758 and Matthieu Zela is fleeing Paris for Dover, having witnessed the murder of his mother by his stepfather and his subsequent execution for that crime. With Matthieu is his five year old brother Tomas and his companion and 'one true ...
An engrossing and utterly absorbing read, The Thief of Time introduces a storyteller of rare distinction. It is 1758 and Matthieu Zela is fleeing Paris for Dover, having witnessed the murder of his mother by his stepfather and his subsequent execution for that crime. With Matthieu is his five year old brother Tomas and his companion and 'one true love', Dominique Sauvet. What follows is the story of Matthieu's life. Beginning in murder and ending in redemption, Matthieu's life is characterised by one extraordinary fact: before the eighteenth century ends, he discovers that his body has stopped ageing. At the end of the twentieth century, he is able to look back on a life lived to the full. He has been an engineer, a rogue, a movie mogul, a soldier, a financier, a lover to many, a cable TV executive and more. The tale of his life involves murder, love, treachery, despair, passion, glamour, and, ultimately hope. Spanning two and a half centuries, The Thief of Time is a prodigious and entertaining achievement that takes in Hollywood in the 1920s, the Great Exhibition of 1851, the French Revolution, the Wall Street Crash, the formation of the modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896, and much more. All is interwoven in a dazzling narrative that ingeniously juxtaposes history and personal experience and presents us with a stunning portrait of a life lived selflessly.
Publishers Weekly, 2006-11-20 Published in the U.K. before his hits Crippen and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, this novel sails similarly historical currents with mixed results. Matthieu Zela is 256 years old in 1999, but doesn't look a day over 50. (Bafflingly-to himself, too-he simply stopped aging.) Loquacious Matthieu crisscrosses the centuries with wry, autobiographical narration, moving from his current incarnation as a satellite TV entrepreneur in London to his coming-of-age in the 1750s, when he leaves Paris for England with his young half-brother Tomas in tow and meets his one true love, Dominique Sauvet. Matthieu's one deep regret, however, isn't romance-related: of the 10 generations of Thomases descended from his brother, each has had his life cut short, "either by his own stupidity or by the machinations of the times." Matthieu's current nephew, Tommy, a wildly popular soap opera star, is a heroin addict and not long for this world. Matthieu vows to prevent his too-early demise. In between, Matthieu shares too predictable highlights from his brushes with world events (the French Revolution, the 1929 stock market crash, etc.) and famous people (Pope Pius IX, Charlie Chaplin, the Rosenbergs). The picaresque nature of this hopscotch through history's hot spots suits Boyne's big-canvas talent, but Matthieu, in his unexplained immortality, is more like a storytelling device than a fully realized character. This novel is not a follow-up but a practice run. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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