From the author who’s inspired millions worldwide with books like Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven comes his most imaginative novel yet, The Time Keeper–a compelling fable about the first man on earth to count the hours.
The man who became Father Time.
In Mitch Albom’s newest work of fiction, the inventor of the world’s first clock is punished for trying to measure God’s greatest gift. He is banished to a cave for centuries and forced to listen to the voices of all who come after him seeking more days, more years. Eventually, with his soul nearly broken, Father Time is granted his freedom, along with a magical hourglass and a mission: a chance to redeem himself by teaching two earthly people the true meaning of time.
He returns to our world–now dominated by the hour-counting he so innocently began–and commences a journey with two unlikely partners: one a teenage girl who is about to give up on life, the other a wealthy old businessman who wants to live forever. To save himself, he must save them both. And stop the world to do so.
Told in Albom’s signature spare, evocative prose, this remarkably original tale will inspire readers everywhere to reconsider their own notions of time, how they spend it and how precious it truly is.
Charles Time lived back in the beginning of civilization, where all of culture lived the hippie way, communing with spirits, and enjoy every experience.
Life in his tiny village was….boring. It only contained a few people that generally did just a few things. Charles knew that he was the only one that thought that concept was problematic, and wondered if there were any other like him. He had heard that other villages existed, but didn’t know where they were, or how on earth he could reach them.
The desire to find other villages grows, and finally Charles decides to depart. He wants to be able to return to his village, so he melts two vases together, one filled with sand. If he turns it on it’s head, the sand slowly ran through the narrow connection into the other jar. He realizes that he can turn the glass 24 times, and at the end of the last time the sun will be in the same place as when he began. He names this interval Day, and then the time for one rotation of sand to pass through the glass Hour.
Armed with the hourglass, Charles decides to go south because he finds walking south easy, and sets off.
Charles does find other villages, and shares his knowledge with them. In every village he passes, people seem to be enthusiastic about this concept, and several make plans to set off on travels of their own. After 180 days of walking south, Charles has not circled the world so he decides to return to his village, and begins the journey home.
As he comes to the last village he visited, Charles is shocked to see that no one has left, and all the villages are actually angry with him. They say that he had tried to ruin their village by sending everyone away, and they run him out. The same reaction happens in every town, and by the time Charles reaches home, he finds that others had traveled there, and were waiting to imprison him for his crimes.
So they throw him in a cave, barricade the entrance, and the resident witch casts a spell that will keep him imprisoned there for eternity.
In the cave Charles only has his hourglass to keep him company, and spends all of his time meticulously turning it to count the days. Then a voice comes from the other side of the entry. It whispers that even though no one is leaving their villages, people are still using hours and days to measure time. The voice worries that as it counts days, it seems to be getting older.
The voice tells him that people call the length of his journey a year, and worries that it only has a few more years to live before it’s body is worn beyond repair. It knew that this happened before time was measured, but now that time existed the progression was noticeable in itself. It asks him if what the villagers say is true, and he only invented time to torture them. Charles replies that no, that was not his intention, and the voice leaves.
Time passes, and more and more voices come to Charles, begging him to change time, give them second chances, youth, everything Charles has no control over. The spell cast to keep him imprisoned seems to have also kept him fro aging like the rest of the world, and Charles wonders how much more of playing Dr. Phil he can take before going mad.
And then the door opens. In the light stands the last of the witches, who has heard Charles’s pleadings and says that she can lift the spell on one condition: he helps two people trapped by his time find freedom. Charles agrees, and hourglass in hand steps into the 21st century.
The witch takes Charles to a large city, and in a back alley he meets Maddie, a young woman who’s life is torn by drug addictions, working part time as a housecleaner for Charles’s second project, Mr. Rich. Mr. Rich is a millionaire who is dying of cancer, frantically scrambling to find every available cure.
There’s a humorous moment as Charles encounters an alarm clock.
Charles goes Dickens, and appears to both of them and introduces himself as Father Time, using his newly empower hourglass to spirit them into their past.
The businessman watches in horror as Maddie relives her parent’s divorce, then her mother wasting away from the same cancer that’s eating Mr. Rich. Maddie sees how brave her mother had been, always putting on a smiling face when Maddie would visit.
Next comes the businessman, who is shown the moment when his own father died, and he inherited his entire fortune. He watches as the young man promises to use it to better the world, and watches Maddie roll her eyes in disgust.
Several trust exercises later, the pair are rudely yanked back to the present, as sirens ring out, and both of their bodies are transported to the hospital. Maddie’s heart was unable to handle the increasing amount of drugs, and has stopped. Mr. Rich had also collapsed.
All three watch in horror as the paramedics fail to restart Maddie’s heartbeat. Eventually, one motions for the others to stop, and the room clears. Meanwhile the businessman was also fading, and Charles has an idea.
He turns the hourglass rapidly, and time blurs.
Maddie is crying at her mother’s bedside, holding the cold hand as the remainder of her strange dream fades. She is alone, and doesn’t know what to do. There’s a knock on the door, and a man in a suit enters. He looks strangely familiar, and extends his hand.
“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you this time.”
As the years pass and Mr. Rich focuses his energy on bettering the city, the scientists, pharmacist, and medical teams that in another life had focused all of their energies on him found the cure for cancer, and the world became a better place (for potential cancer patients, homeless people and drug addicts).