Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Thief of Time” as Want to Read:
The Thief of Time
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Thief of Time

3.43  ·  Rating Details ·  1,259 Ratings  ·  156 Reviews
John Boyne has become internationally known for his acclaimed novels Crippen and the bestselling The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Now, for the first time in the United States, comes the book that started the career of the author that the Irish Examiner calls "one of the best and original of the new generation of Irish writers."

It is 1758 and Matthieu Zela is fleeing Paris a
Paperback, 384 pages
Published January 22nd 2008 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2000)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Thief of Time, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Thief of Time

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Feb 04, 2011 Debbie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book could have been great as the premise was full of potential. Matthieu Zela is born in Paris in 1743 and when he reaches the age of around fifty years old, he realises that he has stopped aging. His story is told in flashbacks of his adventures over the centuries, interspersed with his present day life in the year 1999.

Over the course of his 256 years Matthieu has first hand experience of some pivotal moments in history - the French Revolution, the Wall Street crash, McCarthyism. He fli
Rich Stoehr
May 10, 2010 Rich Stoehr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"And I am not one of these long-living fictional characters who prays for death as a release from the captivity of eternal life; not for me the endless whining and wailing of the undead."

With these words, written on the first few pages of his novel "The Thief of Time," John Boyne pretty much sold me on the central idea of the book: a man who is over 250 years old but looks like a man in his late 40's or early 50's, and who has looked essentially the same for about 200 years.

Matthieu Zela, the lo
Apr 27, 2009 Synnin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was really attracted by the title and description, so I grabbed a book expecting some thrilling epic reading. But i was completely disappointed: a fantastic idea turned into some boring so-called plot, jumping from one so-called plot line to another, omitting the details and leaving a total mess in the mind. Honestly I never made it to the end, I just got tired of not understanding what on earth the book was about and what the author was going to tell the readers with this piece of literature. ...more
Alja Katuin
Het idee was wel leuk, maar de uitwerking was het gewoon net niet..
Libros Prestados
No sé qué me pasa con John Boyne. Es un escritor competente, un buen narrador, un buen cuentacuentos, sus premisas no están mal, pero a mí siempre me deja un poco indiferente. Creo que es porque pese a que escribe libros entretenidos, se nota que aspira a hacer algo más que entretener, a desarrollar una idea, pero nunca lo consigue. Lo intenta, sin llegar a conseguirlo. Al menos a mí me da esa sensación.

En esta historia, por ejemplo, Boyne nos narra la historia de Matthieu Zéla, un hombre que na
Oct 21, 2015 Casey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I don't even know where to start... This was probably the most boring book I have ever read. It sounded like a really great concept and then just ended up being a tremendously disappointing tale of a man who has lived for a long time seeing lots of things, people die and time goes on. You never really learn why his time stops, or why the Tomas's kept dying early, it was just how it was :( Only reason I finished was because I thought surely something exciting would happen... nope. Also the book c ...more
Oct 06, 2015 Diana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Boyne is definitely a born story teller and I greatly enjoyed this novel in which he takes the reader on an interesting journey through history.
Lizzie Friendship
An excellent read... Boyne's first novel and one that is definitely worth taking a look at... Each chapter is like a mini history lesson in itself!
Emily Morgan
In the end I found this book to be a big disappointment especially given how much I enjoyed The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

I was enjoying the story at first, and I thought the premise had a lot of potential.

Cons: I found the ending to be predictable.

But most of all it was the dodgy historical contexts that really killed enjoyment of the story for me. If it had been just one mistake, then I could have looked past it, even though the book relies totally on history for its plot. But there was far m
Aug 16, 2012 zllvs rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"On the other hand, I could have misjudged her. She could love him. Simple as that. She could know the sickening, aching pain that goes with love. She could know how it feels to be aware of someone's presence in a building, even when you're not together; she could know how it feels to be hurt and damaged and crucified by someone and still be unable to shake them from your head, no matter how hard you try, no matter how many years you are apart; she could know that, even years later, all it would ...more
The problem with going back and reading a favorite author's earlier works is that it's inevitably disappointing. You can see the promise, just not the fulfillment of it. This is a nicely written book about a 250 year old man who was born in 18th century france. It has a very Forrest Gump-ian dynamic where he's involved in many of history's biggest events, and interacts with everyone from Robespierre to Charlie Chaplin. A stronger editor could have shaped the narrative better--instead it's a seri ...more
May 21, 2012 Nicki rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book as the premise is so interesting, but the story failed to deliver. It felt like a series of detached observations about individual incidents rather than a really story. There's not much of a plot and nothing over much happens.

The basic idea is great, but the characters, especially the main one, Mathieu, are quite unappealing. I kept reading purely because I was hoping it would spring to life, but it never did.
Laura Coll
Jan 22, 2017 Laura Coll rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sin-terminar
No ha sido mi estilo, lo he dejado a las treinta páginas y tras hojearlo hasta el final me he dado cuenta de que no me hubiera gustado. Simplemente, el protagonista vive durante varios siglos, sin ningún tipo de explicación. No hay más trama, no hay acción. Vamos viendo sus diferentes conquistas y poco más. Puede que sea una historia con mucho sentimiento o bellamente escrita, no lo sé, pero no es mi estilo.
Duds Saldanha
Jul 25, 2015 Duds Saldanha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
quando eu paro pra pensar que terminei esse livro, agora, SEGUNDOS depois de fechar a última página, me surpreendo por eu ter levado tanto tempo –mais de um ano– pra sequer lê-lo além das 40 primeiras páginas.

não poderia descrever esse livro com nenhuma palavra que exista na língua portuguesa, mas se inglês fosse minha língua-mãe, pra qualquer pessoa que me perguntasse eu diria que esse livro é EXQUISITE. e acho que ela realmente resume todo o livro e as mil histórias que acompanham a vida de m
Aug 16, 2010 Brad rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, sci-fi, z-2011
This book was an interesting exploration of the life of a man who stopped aging around his 50s and his interactions (lots of them) with people that he encounters throughout his immense lifespan. Most important is his relationship with his brother's descendants, who seem to fall into the same self-destructive habits and patterns as their fathers.

Because of Mr. Zela's (Matthieu, please) condition, he has experienced many things and Boyne gives us a tour of England in the late 1700s, the French Re
Es un libro ameno e interesante, pero en algunos momentos se vuelve un tanto predecible. El autor va demasiado al grano en algunos momentos, cosa rara en un libro de más de 500 páginas. En vez de contarte un montón de pequeñas historias de la vida del personaje de una manera superficial, debería centrarse en 2 o 3 y contarlas más a fondo. Me ha faltado un giro inesperado o una reflexión que justificara el tiempo que he invertido en leer este libro. Pero nunca llegaron.
Jun 20, 2014 Veronica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Pensei: é do autor de "O menino do pijama listrado", fala sobre Tempo; só pode ser bom!
Ledo engano. Narrativa arrastada, repetitiva, que deixa de lado personagens realmente interessantes, para focar em um protagonista fraco e subdesenvolvido.
Um livro escrito preguiçosamente.
Evie Pey
Feb 12, 2015 Evie Pey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book, it is very unusual. It's a story that I have never read before which is very unusual and it is so well written it pulls you in. I will definitely read another by this author.
Dec 13, 2016 Evelien rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
forrest gump, maar anders :) Mathieu Zela wordt in 1999 bijna 300 jaar oud, en is eind 18de eeuw ergens rond zijn 50ste verjaardag gestopt met ouder worden. Hij ontmoet Chaplin, speelt een rol in de wereldtentoonstelling in Londen in 1851 en bij de eerste nieuwe olympische spelen in Griekenland. Het is een zeer ontspannend en leuk boek, en daar ligt tegelijk zijn grootste pluspunt en het grootste minpunt. Het is wat raar dat iemand die bijna 300 wordt een niet meer beschouwende en filosofische h ...more
Levent Mollamustafaoglu
This book tells about the extraordinary adventures of one Matthieu Zela, a French boy who escapes France in the year of 1758, having just witnessed the murder of his mother by his step-father. After he makes sure the authorities find out and his step-father is executed for his crime, Matthieu runs away with his step-brother and boards a boat going to Dover. He meets Dominique in Dover and she becomes his first and only real love.

He quickly reveals to the reader his strange affliction: It is the
Beatriz Esteban
Sep 06, 2015 Beatriz Esteban rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Escribo esta reseña porque, conociéndome, dentro de un tiempo recordaré que este libro me entretuvo, pero no seré capaz de recordar lo mucho que adoro leer a John Boyne. Que sí, me quedan muchas obras suyas por leer y quizás acabe decepcionándome, pero hasta ahora no ha ocurrido.

Me gusta muchísimo el estilo de Boyne. Aún no sé cómo consigue, pero plaga esta gran historia de pequeñas historias, llenas de detalles y, sin embargo, en ningún momento se vuelve pesado. Pero en serio, en ni un solo mom
Dec 17, 2014 Lina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reseña del blog IKari

Nunca muero. Sólo me vuelvo más y más viejo.

Con esa frase comienza este libro, contado desde la perspectiva de Matthieu Zéla, un hombre nacido en Paris en 1743 y que tiene 256 años, y que por alguna razón que desconoce dejo de envejecer a los 50 años de edad. A lo largo de su extensa vida maneja mantener el contacto con la descendencia de su hermano Tomas, los cuales todos tenían cortas vidas y con un final bastante desdichado. En capítulos relativamente cortos Matthieu nos
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Uwe Hook
Nov 30, 2013 Uwe Hook rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"And I am not one of these long-living fictional characters who prays for death as a release from the captivity of eternal life; not for me the endless whining and wailing of the undead."

With these words, written on the first few pages of his novel "The Thief of Time," John Boyne pretty much sold me on the central idea of the book: a man who is over 250 years old but looks like a man in his late 40's or early 50's, and who has looked essentially the same for about 200 years.

Matthieu Zela, the lo
A slight, unconvincing story stretched out over 500 pages with a central character whose central conceit appears that he seems too boring to age. Mixing up the timeline didn't add anything to it. The language and speech of the various characters didn't convince. In fact some of it is just jarringly unbelievable. I don't know that much detail of the history of the previous 300 years but some of the details just didn't ring true. Often there was clunky dialogue or cut&paste descriptions to bri ...more
Apr 25, 2015 Laurel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
La novela nos cuenta la vida de Matthieu Zéla, un personaje que al llegar a la mediana edad ha dejado de envejecer. El libro se basa en sus vivencias a través de los siglos y de como ha influenciado de cierta manera en hechos importantes de la historia. Nos cuenta como desde la muerte de su madre emprende un viaje con su medio hermano y una chica que conoce en un barco, que desde ese momento será un amor difícil de superar.
Cuando me enteré de la existencia de este libro y leí su sinopsis me int
Jan 14, 2015 Jo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Matthieu Zela is 256 years old. He is pleasantly middle-aged, and has been so for 200 years. He just does not age. The narrative moves back and forth from present day to the 18th century, tracing Matthieu's life and various loves. Although Matthieu's life intersects with many great events of history, the story is not particularly political or philosophical, offering little in the way of comment or even description of historical events. Instead the focus is on love, friendships and work, which se ...more
Feb 16, 2008 Moira rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book about Matthieu, a man who stopped aging in his early 50's. It's mildly reminiscent of "Portrait of Dorian Gray" although Matthieu's "portrait in the attic" is the succession of nephews, all named Thomas, who come to an early, bad end. Dorian Gray is a wonderful book - I had occasion to re-read it last year and found it just as intriguing as I had when I read it many years ago. But Matthieu's fatal flaw is not as obvious, his redemption not as satisfying and the vignette-like way i ...more
Robert Palmer
Apr 21, 2013 Robert Palmer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
WOW! If I had only one word to describe this book it would be WOW !Matthiew Zeia is born in Paris in 1743 and by 1758 after his Mother has been murdered by his Stepfather he along with his half Brother Thomas he flees Paris. On the boat to England he meets Dominique ( 4 or 5 years his senior ) they stay together in England for the next few years.
By the time Matthiew is in his mid 50s he stops aging, and in 1999 he is the major stockholder in a satellite broadcasting station and his Great-nephew
Jan 26, 2015 Steph rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
This is the second John Boyne I've read. The first was The House of Special Purpose which will forever remain on my all time favourite historical fiction list. So it's safe to say my expectations were high.

The Thief of Time was ...good. I like the historical detail, I loved catching a glimpse of all the time periods Matthieu lived through (I even learnt a thing or two), but overall it was a little slow.

That is until I got to the end. WHICH WAS AWESOME!!!! I finished the book, felt slightly sad
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Nilda
  • Con ánimo de ofender: artículos 1998-2001
  • The Dutch Wife
  • The Poet of Tolstoy Park
  • The Commissariat of Enlightenment
  • Half Life
  • Eloise Takes a Bawth
  • A Shortcut in Time (A Shortcut in Time, #1)
  • Kockroach
  • Midnight Mass (Peter Owen Modern Classic)
  • Love in a Dry Season
  • The Tokyo-Montana Express
  • After You with the Pistol
  • Alles is zoals het zou moeten zijn
  • De verborgen geschiedenis van Courtillon
  • Il giovane Holden - Franny e Zooey - Nove racconti - Alzate l'architrave, carpentieri e Seymour, introduzione
  • India Black and the Shadows of Anarchy (Madam of Espionage Mystery, #3)
  • Dickens at Christmas
John Boyne (born 30 April 1971 in Dublin) is an Irish novelist.

He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where he won the Curtis Brown prize. In 2015, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by UEA.

John Boyne is the author of ten novels for adults and five for young readers, as well as a collection of short stories.

His novel
More about John Boyne...

Share This Book

“The history that one can create with a friend, a lifetime of history and shared experience, is a wonderful thing and shabbily sacrificed. And yet a true friend is a rare thing; sometimes those whom we perceive as friends are simply people with whom we spend a lot of time.” 6 likes
“The moral of the story’, he repeated, leaning forward and placing his hands flat on the desk in front of him, ‘is that every so often a natural disaster comes along, an act of God, and it blows all the dust away and when it does people can see that whatever’s left underneath ain’t so pretty. You get it?’ Denton” 1 likes
More quotes…