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The Thief of Time

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  869 ratings  ·  119 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
ebook, 384 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published 2000)
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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
"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
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
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
"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
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
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.
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
Evie Pey
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.
This aptly-named book was a huge disappointment, mainly because I was expecting a fantasy novel. Although the main character is supposed to have lived 256 years, without appearing older than his late 40s, there is no explanation for this, magical or otherwise. Instead, the reader gets an uncurious, incomplete and disjointed romp through history told by a man who seems to have no control over his life or anyone else's. The fact that he spends much of his time trying to persuade people to address ...more
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!
Monica Wies
Na twee andere boeken van Boyne gelezen te hebben had ik hoge verwachtingen van dit boek.
maar ik vond het tegenvallen.
Het gaat over de Fransman Matthieu Zela, hij is geboren in 1743 en leeft in 1999 nog steeds.
Het boek is zijn autobiografie en springt op en neer door de tijd.
Tegen het eind van de 18e eeuw komt zijn veroudering tot stilstand en gaat hij verder door het leven als ca. 50 jarige.
Allerlei belangrijke gebeurtenissen passeren de revue, zoals de Franse revolutie, de Boerenoorlog, de 1e
Barbara Spencer
Beautifully written, The Thief of Time covers major events from early 18th century to present day seen through the eyes of one man, Mattieu Zela, a young Frenchman who doesn't age. Having married and outlived numerous wives he retraces portions of his life, including the generations of nephews, all of whom die at a young age. Determined to prevent the same happening to the current Thomas, it is this act which starts up the aging process in Mattieu again. Well worth reading, although I became bog ...more
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
As a novel by John Boyne, I expected the best, considering also the presentation lines on the back of the paperback edition I bought, extremely catching. As any first work though, you perceive greatness but you only get a taste of it. The novel starts with a lot of potential, and very good story-lines, but then all the anticipation doesn't really get fulfilled by the result. I guessed the ending way too early during the reading, but that is not exactly bad: John Boyne is a master of honesty, and ...more

This was my first John Boyne book after The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which is really well-known. His other books are far less popular, but I can't see why, as John Boyne turned out to be one of my favourite authors. One of the things I like best, besides the style and pacing of his stories, is the fact that he does something different every time.

This is a adult novel, although he also writes books for (arguably) children like The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas or Noah Barleywater run
Robert Palmer
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
Uwe Hook
"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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Me gustan las obras de este autor y "El Ladrón de Tiempo" me mantuvo amena y divertida desde la primera hasta la última página. El personaje central es un hombre que vive dos siglos y medio sin enfermarse ni envejecer, así que narra toda clase de acontecimientos y circunstancias de su existencia en algunos capítulos en lo que se refiere a su pasado y cuando estaba más interesada en ella, cambiaba a la narración de su vida presente. Como es lógico pasó por guerras, vivió la època del cadalso, pre ...more
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
-A bit of spoilers in here, not everything, but glimpses.

I guess this book is a bit of an on/off book in terms of story and thriller..
It has its moments of brilliance but they're so rare.. The story itself has a bit of an old idea, but its taken from another perspective, the idea of the "thomas" generations in the story brought the continuation of it, it kinda connected it. not like the main character Mathieu who was supposed to be the connecting main character in the story, oddly enough..

This book is really great! Fun fictional story filled with different events that you totally don't expect. Since it's about a guy that lives to see 256, a few moments also crossed my mind, as to if I have really made the best of my life so far. The whole book is made up of two parallel stories. One is the story of his first love when he was young, the other is of his life growing older and older.
I enjoyed the idea and the story, but was distracted by the numerous linguistic anachronisms and the occasional surprisingly sloppy use of language. The book needed a careful editor, who might have caught obvious mistakes like saying "tend to" instead of "attend to," and the use of expressions that didn't exist at the time the characters used them. However, the book was entertaining and fun to read.
Funnily enough, I could tell this was a first novel. Much of it is told in summary, rather than scene. There's no depth or warmth to the main character, who doesn't seem to really like much of anyone or anything. His life is told all out of order for no reason that I could tell.

Nothing about the book really offended me, but nothing captured my attention either.
Michael Davies
I always enjoy a time hopping story, albeit this one has a protagonist who has a linear time line but tells his story by moving from one era of his life to another and back again. As with all stories involving 256 year olds there are plot holes-surely, for example, someone at some point must have noticed that Matthieu Zela (who never changes his name) never ages-his many wives for instance! However, the story rattles along and Matthieu is an amiable narrator. It's not a classic-the story isn't g ...more
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.
Edwin Kort
Het verhaal van een man die maar niet ouder werd, en zijn familie om zich heen ziet komen en gaan.
Al meer dan 250 jaar leeft Matthieu Zela en heeft hij veel zien gebeuren en veranderen op aarde.

verhaal springt heen en weer tussen zijn eerste jaren, de huidige tijd en zijn verleden. idee van het verhaal was goed
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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 was awarded the Curtis Brown prize. But it was during his time at Trinity that he began to get published. To pay his way at that stage of his career, he worked at Waterstone's, typing up his drafts by night.

John Boyne is
More about John Boyne...
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas The Absolutist This House is Haunted The House of Special Purpose Stay Where You Are and Then Leave

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“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.” 4 likes
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