Hilarie Burton Morgan: „The Rural Diaries“ – it’s all about compassion, empathy and the will to change

„First of all, you don’t know me.

Second of all, you don’t know me.“

Any of you One Tree Hill Fans out there will definitely know these words spoken by one of our favorite characters, Peyton Sawyer.

With that comes the question: When do we really know one person?

I am not silly to think that 100% knowledge about one person exists, but it is always great to get to know and understand a fellow human who inspires you and who is a good influence in your life a little bit better.

So here comes: The Rural Diaries

Have you ever felt really invited into someone’s life without feeling awkward about it?

Hilarie Burton Morgan has been a positive influence and inspiration to me for a long time – not just because she is one hell of an actress (f.e. she worked on Lethal Weapon, Forever, White Collar – just to name a few), who has found her women empowerment roles in christmas movies, but because she is walking the walk of doing good things for her community, encouraging others to do the same and changing her life when she needed it the most. Now she is happily married to Jeffrey Dean Morgan, loves her two children, Gus and George, dearly and is a farm lady who is just is as tough as they come with a heart of gold.

„Love is like farm work. It requires consistency, and imagination. Your body will ache and you will be fatigued, but there is no greater reward than seeing the fruits of your labor.“

(Hilarie Burton Morgan: The Rural Diaries, Preface, page x)

When I first heard about Hilarie writing a book, I was definitely in for pre-ordering it. There was just no other way. Then, when the time of the book-release came closer I was really excited, because not only was a convention planned in May in Paris with Hilarie attending, it was also the weekend before the official release date – and my hopes were high that she would bring copies to sign.

In the times leading to this, the Corona virus hit the world – and the convention was postponed. So I really couldn’t be more excited when Hilarie announced that she would partner with her community bookstore, Oblong Books and Music, to send out signed copies of „The Rural Diaries“. It was a natural thing to order and to support small shops who were having a hard time during the lockdown.

Only two days apart the copies arrived – one pre-ordered book and one signed copy from Oblong Books and Music in Rhinebeck.

Since I was so looking forward to reading her story and getting to know her a little bit more, a few days earlier I purchased the audiobook – and it was just as amazing as I thought. On my way to work and back home I listened to Hilarie telling me about key moments in her life, from loosing a good friend during the war in Iraq to meeting Jeffrey Dean Morgan, to getting pregnant the first time with Gus and feeling lonely in Los Angeles to battling depression after her first miscarriage to finally becoming a mom to sweet George and marrying Jeffrey in 2019.

The most wonderful thing about this audiobook: you can hear every emotion Hilarie wants to share, the good, the bad, the funny and the ones that nearly make you cry.

„The next morning Jeff made coffee and we opened gifts. Gus tore into his presents, and then I got up to make breakfast, feeling the letdown of a holiday ending.

‚Hold on, there is something in the tree,‘ Jeffrey said.

I looked and there was a white envelope that read „Hilarie“. I opened it up, thinking it was a gift certificate. But inside was a piece of paper that read „Morgan“

I turned around, and Jeffrey was down on one knee with the ring.“

 (Hilarie Burton Morgan: The Rural Diaries, page 59)

 All these moments play a vital part in Hilarie becoming the wonderful human she is today – and in her book she also shares her stories of failure and how it is good and healthy to embrace these moments, learn from them and go on in your life being stronger and more self conscious than ever.

For the food-lovers – there are some great receipes in „The Rural Diaries“, which are on my list to try out some time soon. Also Hilarie shares her insights and learnings about being a farm lady and caring for ducks, cows and alpaca.

 „Sunny walked me through how to give them their deworming shots once a month, and I went to school on alpacas. I learned that, thankfully, they are the least-high-maintenance animals on the planet.“

(Hilarie Burton Morgan: The Rural Diaries, page 91)

If you are like me and are interested in reading reviews before you order a book – you probably won’t find anything negative while doing your research – because there just isn’t.

„The Rural Diaries“ is just that – honest words about a life lived through changes, through challenges, through dark days and losses but always with a heart full of longing and hoping and fighting for better days.

 „I’m sorry,“ he said.

Jeffrey had finally seen me. We talked about our grief. We talked about how we both felt like failures. We talked about how lonely we were.

Suddenly, with his hands in his pockets, Jeffrey was a different person. He was incredibly vulnerable. He talked to me about how much he valued me and that this was home and that it was worth any fight.

And as we talked, he started helping me. He stood and went to get a whole bunch of rocks, laying pathways through the garden for me. Each path was a manifestation of what he was saying.

We worked on this garden together.“

(Hilarie Burton Morgan: The Rural Diaries, page 199)

 „The Rural Diaries“ is not just about family moments, its also about life-changing and positive moments regarding work: Hilarie tells about her work with organisations like Astor Services for Children and Families, which is a treatment center for children with behavioral issues. Becoming involved with renovating the floors and working for the well-being of the children not only helped her personally but also brought her and Jeffrey closer together.

„Jeff started doing a lot of press with me to promote Astor. […] He’s incredible generous with himself. So when he’s home, that’s his time to recuperate.

Watching him use his reserves to promote Astor made me fall in love with him all over. He knew it was important to me, so it became important to him. Jeffrey had shown up, and I knew that meant we were going to push through the shitty stuff together and keep going.

From that moment on, we were stronger than we’d ever been. In working for others, we found ourselves again.“

(Hilarie Burton Morgan: The Rural Diaries, page 210)

Another important part of her life is Samuel’s Sweet Shop and in telling how they met Ira Gutner, to mourning his sudden death which then leads to buying the sweet shop to save it – it’s also another story filled with love, compassion and the will to work and help when others are in need to be saved.  

There is so much more I could say about this diamond of a book – but I really would like to encourage you to read it and to see for yourself – or hear, if you prefer the audiobook, which is a real treat. (And with that coming from me, who is not a big fan of audiobooks in general, you could definitely trust my words with that one.)

 And – if you ever feel stuck in life, I would like to share a saying of Hilarie’s father, that is an important one in every aspect of living: „The Want-To creates the How-To“ – or as Hilarie has put it in words a while ago: If you want something bad enough, you will find a way to make it happen. If not, it just wasn’t the right thing for you.

 So – I really hope you will read this book and hopefully it will enrich your life in many aspects.

„All the lessons we’d gathered from living here, from buying Samuel’s, from engaging with our neighbors and celebrating their talents – we wanted to share that.

The same way I had been inspired by other people’s stories when I was low, I wanted to pay it forward and continue to message:

Try. The want-to creates the how-to.

And if all else fails, just fake it. But for God’s sake, at least try.“

(Hilarie Burton Morgan: The Rural Diaries, page 254)


You can find everything about Mischief Farm on their website here.

And if you want to check out Hilarie and Jeffrey on Instagram, you can do it here and here.

Emily Gunnis: „The Girl in the Letter“

This short article will only be in english language. The german version of this book is available, titled „Das Haus der Verlassenen“.


This book  in its english version followed my thoughts a long time. I don’t recall exactly when I have seen it first, but it was kind of haunting. Then the german version got my eye in a bookstore, but not the way the english one was at my thoughts – even though the cover design was the same.

So – after some more re-thinking I went and ordered „The Girl in the Letter“ – for I love stories that have actions in different times (here it is 1956 and 2017) and the characters seemed to be written quite well.

And then it arrived…

The storyline set in 1956 evolves around a girl named Ivy Jenkins, who got pregnant and is now facing a hard time in St. Margaret’s, a home for unmarried pregnant women. She was forced to go there by her „step-dad“, as you could call him. Her real dad died during the war and her mother is too emotionally paralysed to step up for her daughter. So Ivy is sent away – and from this moment on she lives in pure horror, for the „home“ is nothing more than a workplace with no one to really care for the young women and their children.

„Tuesday 5 March 1957

Ivy lay in the dark, staring up at the beamed ceiling, listening to the young girl in the next bed crying quietly. The dormitory was bitterly cold. Every girl lay on their side, curled up in a ball, trying to stay warm. The locked window next to Ivy’s bed had no curtains, and the moon cast a beam on the poor girl beside her. She was so young, she looked like she still belonged in school. She’d had puppy fat when she had first arrived, and a colour on her cheeks, but now her collarbone jutted out from under her overalls and her pale skin pulled at her haunted eyes, from which tears were now falling.“

(Emily Gunnis, The girl in the Letter, page 202)


In 2017 a young journalist named Samantha struggles with her life. She is currently living with her grandmother and her own daughter while being estranged from the childs father. Her own mother died some time ago and she is kind of unhappy with her work situation, having to rely too much on her Nana for taking care of her daughter.

„The lift was broken again. Sam climbed the steps of the Whitehawk Estate stairwell two at a time and let herself into Nana’s flat where she and Emma were staying after storming out during a particularly bad row with Ben two months before. […] ‚I am sorry again for working late and you having to look after Emma, and missing your birthday and having to stay with you…I’m just sorry for being born, basically.‘ – ‚Well, I am not, I’d be lost without you.‘ Nana kissed both Sam and Emma, then disappeared down the corridor.“

(Emily Gunnis, The Girl in the Letter, page 24/30)


Then Samanthas grandmother gives her some letters she has found and Sam takes time out of her job to get to know more about that girl named Ivy that wrote these letters –  and soon she wants to find out more about why she was taken to St. Margarets and why no one of her family helped her.

Sam soon discovers things that also have something to do with her own life – more than she realises at first.

She is about to uncover murderous secrets and untold family history that will change her view of family forever…


„The Girl in the Letter“ is definitely a page-turner and a good book to read.

If you love secrets and mysteries wrapped in a story spanning over different times – this book is just right for you.


And – Emily Gunnis has already published another novel: „The lost Child“, which is also set in different times (1960 & 2014) and has – just like „The Girl in the Letter“ – a lot to do with family history.

Ruth Ware: „The Death of Mrs. Westaway“

This short article will only be in english language. Important note: the german version with the title „Der Tod der Mrs. Westaway“ will be available later this year – probably in November.


When you see someone recommending a book, it is either really good – or not. At least not everyone has the same taste in books and loves the same storylines. So when the lovely Emilie Ullerup (actress, plays Bree o’Brien in „Chesapeake Shores“) recommended this one on her instagram stories I was drawn in from the first moment.

Usually I am not a big fan of thrillers, but this one got me hooked. At first it was the cover that caught my eye: the front of a house, the small light that shines out from the inside and the one sentence that meant that there is more to it: „Every family has its secrets…“. And so it is in the family of Harriet Westaway.

Harriet Westaway – or Hal, as she is called by friends – has recently lost her mother due to a car-crash. And she is nearly broke. So when she receives a letter from the guy she owes money to – she is more than just a little bit frightened.

„Inside there was just one sheet of paper, with only a couple of sentences typed on it.

Sorry to have missed you. We would like to discuss your financial situation. We will call again.

[…] It was the message behind the notes that made her hands shake as she placed them carefully on the coffee table, side by side. Hal was used to reading between the lines, deciphering the importance of what people didn’t say, as much as what they did. It was her job, in a way. But the unspoken words here required no decoding at all.

They said, we know where you work.

We know where you live.

And we will come back.“

(Ruth Ware, The Death of Mrs. Westaway, page 6/7)

Then a small kind of miracle comes up, which she thinks could help her out of this situation: Hal receives a letter telling her that she interited something from her grandmother who recently died. The problem here: Hal’s only grandmother she knows of died 20 years ago…

But Hal has no other choice – so she decides to take the journey to the funeral and getting to know the family there – maybe she can convince them that she is the one they are looking for. So once she is there, she discovers she has kind of a big family, uncles that she has not known of – and she is drawn between curiosity and caution…

She has no idea, what she is in for – but anything seems to be better than waiting for some hitter wanting their money back…

So – „The Death of Mrs. Westaway“ got me from the first words.

This book has everything a good thriller/ crime novel should have: a secret, a dark and gloomy place, carefully written characters and for sure some murders.

And Harriet Westaway is a main character that you root for and that you hope will go through it all unharmed…


I can highly recommend „The Death of Mrs. Westaway“ for you to read – in the summer on a beach – or at home getting cozy with tea and a blanket.

~ Joy Adamson: „Born Free“ – a life-story that touched people around the world ~

Geschichten von Tieren und deren Zusammenleben mit Menschen haben uns schon immer fasziniert, berührt und zum Nachdenken gebracht. So auch diese Geschichte, deren hintergründige Botschaft – liegen die Ereignisse auch fast 60 Jahre zurück – heute mehr denn je zählt.

Stories of animals and their encounters and maybe also their living-together with humans have always touched us, fascinated us and made us think big about ourselves and what is best for nature. That is also the case with this wonderful story, that – even if the actions took place nearly 60 years ago – is now more up to date than ever.

Dies ist eine Geschichte von der Nähe zwischen Menschen und Tieren, den Herausforderungen des Lebens in der „Wildnis“ und den Versuchen, Tiere zu schützen und ihren Lebensraum zu erhalten – damals wie heute.

This is a story of the closeness between humans and animals, the challenges of life in the „wilderness“ and some people trying to make a difference in saving animals and their habitat – then and now.

Das ist die Geschichte von Elsa, der Löwin, ihren Jungen und ihrer Zeit mit Joy Adamson.

Das ist die Geschichte von „Frei Geboren“.

This is the story of Elsa, the lioness, her cubs and her time with Joy Adamson.

This is the story of „Born Free“.

Joy und ihr Ehemann George lebten zu der Zeit als sie Elsa fanden und aufnahmen in Kenia, wo es in den 1960er Jahren keine große Zivilisation gab, außer ein paar einheimischen Stämmen und der Wildnis um sie herum. Doch auch schon damals gab es Probleme mit Wilderern und Tieren, die Stammesmitglieder angefallen hatten. George Adamsons Arbeit als Senior Game Warden war es unter anderem, Wilderei möglichst zu verhindern und sich um Tiere zu kümmern, die die Stämme angefallen hatten.

Joy and her husband George were living in the 1960s – the time they found Elsa and chose to help her – in Kenia, where there was at these times no big civilisation but only a few tribes and wilderness. But also back then there has been poaching and animals that attacked tribes. So it was the task of George to prevent poaching and to deal with animals that attacked the tribes.

1956 brachte George drei Löwenjunge ins Camp, in dem er und Joy gemeinsam mit einem Klippschliefer namens Pati lebten. George und ein weiterer Game Warden waren auf der Suche nach einem Maneater – einem Menschen-anfallenden Löwen – gewesen, als sie auf eine Löwin stießen, die sie wild und energisch anfauchte. Leider hatte George nicht auf den ersten Blick erkannt, dass sie Jungtiere hatte, sonst wäre die Geschichte wohl anders ausgegangen. So machten er und seine Begleiter den Fehler, den sie gemacht haben – auch aus der Bedrängungssituation heraus – und erschossen die Löwin. Dann erkannte George seinen Fehler und machte sich mit den anderen auf die Suche nach den Jungen. Er fand sie und brachte sie ins Camp zu Joy, die sich auch sofort – mit Hilfe von Pati, die sich rührend um die Löwenjungen bemühte – um die Löwenbabies kümmerte.

In 1956 George brought three lion cubs into the camp where he and Joy resided with a hyrax named Pati. George and another game warden were looking for a maneater when coming across a lioness who was furiously looking at them. Sad thing happened: George didn’t notice at first sight that the lioness had swollen teats and therefore only was protecting her cubs. So without knowing this, they shot the lioness. Then – after finding out she had little ones, they went on and looked for them – found them – and brought them into camp to Joy, who – with the help of hyrax Pati – started looking for them and their well-being.

Und eines der Löwenjungen bekam den Namen Elsa.

And one of the small lion cubs was named Elsa.

***   ***   ***

Die ersten Seiten drehen sich um die Zeiten, als die Löwenjungen noch klein waren und Hilfe benötigten. Sehr schön beschrieben sind auch die Zusammenspiele mit Pati, die sich auch gegenüber den ständig wachsenden Löwen und deren Spielgewohnheiten durchzusetzen wusste.

Als die Zeit verging, wurden die zwei anderen Löwenjungen in Zoologische Gärten abgegeben und nur Elsa, die kleinste Löwin, verblieb bei den Adamsons.

The first few pages are about the times that the lion cubs were still small and needed help. Very beautifully written are the times they had interacting with Pati, who was nevertheless strict enough to tell the cubs who is the boss when their playing became a little too rough.

As time went by the two other lion cubs were given away to zoos and only Elsa, the smallest one, stayed with the Adamsons.

Gemeinsam mit Joy und George reist Elsa in Afrika umher und lernt andere Gegenden kennen. So fand sie es zeitweise sehr interessant, im Meer zu schwimmen und andere Tiere und Gegenden kennenzulernen.

Together with Joy and George Elsa took her time taking safaris around Africa and getting to know different places. So she found it quite interesting to take a swim in the sea and get to know different animals and different surroundings.


„In natural life as long as he finds food, a lion does not wander over great distances, and certainly Elsa had seen more of the world than she would have done living with a pride. Yet she knew her home and whenever we returned from safari she would go straight back to her habits and usual routine.“

(page 52)


Und wie manche Menschen auch, hat auch Elsa ihre Vorlieben beziehungsweise Abneigungen gegen bestimmte Vorgehensweisen – so wie das Fotografieren:

And, just like the humans as well, Elsa had mixed feelings towards some things others liked – like being photographed:


„She is genuinely camera-shy and always hates being filmed or sketched. As soon as she sees one of those awful shiny boxes focused on her she invariably turns her head, or covers it with a paw, or just walks away.“

(page 59)

Joy und George verbringen lange Zeit damit, Elsa an ein eigenständiges Leben in der Wildnis Kenias zu gewöhnen – immer wieder mit kleinen Erfolgen und größeren Rückschlägen. So haben sie zwar immer eine „offene Tür“, sollte Elsa Hilfe benötigen und Schutz suchen, doch lassen die beiden Elsa auch immer mal wieder alleine in der Natur zurück, damit sie ein freies Löwenleben kennenlernt und einen Gefährten oder ein Rudel findet.

Joy and George spent loads of time encouraging Elsa to live a life on her own in the wilderness that surrounds them – sometimes with positive outcome, sometimes with failures as well. So they always had an „open door“ should Elsa need help and support, but the two also leave her alone in the wild every now and then to give her the push she needs to have a free lion-life and find a mate or a pride to live with.

***   ***   *** 

Und Elsa lebt ihr freies Leben, findet einen Gefährten – und besucht doch immer wieder Joy und George. Ihre Bindung an die beiden bleibt so felsenfest bestehen – auch neben der Nähe zu ihrem Männchen, dass sie den Adamsons auch nach längerer Abwesenheit – und der Geburt ihrer eigenen Jungen – diese zeigt.

So Elsa decides to live her free live, finds a male lion – but also continues to visit Joy and George. Her relationship with the two humans is so strong, that – despite the closeness to her mate and after long periods of being away and giving birth to her own cubs – Elsa decides to show her little ones to Joy and George.


„After watching her for a while, I went to my tent and was surprised to see her following me. […] We all sat together on the grass, Elsa leaning against me while she suckled her family. […] she came to rest against me and hugged me with one paw, including me in her family. […] So many people had warned me that after Elsa’s cubs had been born she would probably turn into a fierce and dangerous mother defending her young, yet here she was trusting and as affectionate as ever, and wanting me to share her happiness. I felt very humble.“

(page 161)

George und Joy erfreuen sich an den Zeiten, in denen Elsa mit ihren Jungen ins Camp kommt – oder sie die kleine Familie unterwegs sehen. So können sie genau beobachten, wie sich die Kleinen entwickeln und wie sie als Geschwister zusammenleben – jedes mit eigenem starken Charakter und jedes ein kleiner Teil von Elsa. Die Kleinen erhalten von Joy und George die Namen Jespah, Gopa und Little Elsa.

George and Joy are really happy and enjoying the times when Elsa comes to visit them in camp – or they see them in the wild. So they can really look at the evolution of the cubs and how they interact as siblings – each one with a strong character and each one a small part of Elsa. Joy and George name the cubs Jespah, Gopa and Little Elsa.


„Later they all came to camp and had great fun with the guinea fowl. We were amused to observe how very cunning Little Elsa had become. She allowed her brothers to pull out the prickly quills of the feathers and then when the bird had been nicely plucked took the first opportunity of grabbing it. After this she defended it with snarls, growls and scratchings, her ears flattened and with such a forbidding expression, that the boys thought it wiser to go off and pluck another bird.“

(page 190)


Auch als die Adamsons Besuch vom Verleger ihres Buches bekommen, der Elsa kennenlernen möchte, zeigt Elsa sich von ihrer äußerst freundlichen Löwen-Seite.

Even when the Adamsons get a visit from the publisher of their book, Elsa shows nothing but deeply lion-kindness towards him.

„At dawn I was woken by noises from Billy’s tent […]: evidently they were trying to persuade Elsa to leave Billy’s bed. […] Billy kept admirably calm considering that it was his first experience of waking up with a fully grown lioness resting on him. Even when Elsa nibbled him slightly in his arm, her way of showing her affection, he did nothing but talk quietly to her.“

(page 194)

***   ***   ***

Das Buch „Born Free“ ist ein wahrer Schatz für alle, die Tiere und Tiergeschichten mögen. Als Leser schließt man schnell alle Bewohner – angefangen bei Pati und den kleinen Löwengeschwistern von Elsa – in sein Herz und liest aufgeregt Seite um Seite, um zu erfahren, wie es mit ihrer Geschichte weitergeht und was sie alles erleben.

„Born Free“ is a real treasure for those who love animals and animalstories. As a reader you are bound to love every creature of the camp – starting with Pati and the small lions around Elsa herself and you will find yourself reading page after page wanting to see in your mind how the story unfolds and learn more about Elsa and her life.

Einige weitere Zitate aus  dem Buch findet ihr in der Slideshow:

Enjoy some more quotes from the book in the slideshow:

Diese Diashow benötigt JavaScript.

Hervorheben möchte ich an dieser Stelle auch den fantastischen Film „Frei geboren“ mit Virginia McKenna und Bill Travers, welche auch die Born Free Foundation gegründet haben und sich für den Schutz wilder und bedrohter Tiere einsetzen.

Beide haben Joy und George Adamson kennengelernt und ihre Arbeit sehr bewundert.

I would like to highlight the wonderful movie „Born Free“ starring Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers, who not only founded Born Free Foundation but also were rooting for the saving of wild and threatened animals.

Both were happy enough to met Joy and George Adamson back then and loved and admired their work.

***   ***   *** 

Über die wichtige Arbeit der Born Free Foundation kann man sich hier informieren.

You can learn everything about the important work of Born Free Foundation here.

Ich kann euch „Born Free“ nur empfehlen – sei es als Buch oder als Film 🙂

I highly recommend you „Born Free“ either the book or the movie 🙂

Read it. Watch it. Help Born Free.

~ Matt Haig: „How to stop time“~

Es gibt Bücher, die liest man einfach so: schöne und emotionale Geschichten, die einem auch noch länger im Gedächtnis bleiben.

Und dann gibt es die Art von Büchern, die einen tieferen Sinn haben, die viel Wahrheit enthalten, auch wenn diese in der Geschichte versteckt ist.

There are books that you just like to read: nice and emotional stories which you have in mind long after you finished reading the book.

And then there are books which have a deeper meaning and a lot of truth inside – even when this is hidden inside the story.

Nun, „How to stop time“ (in deutscher Sprache erschienen unter dem Titel: „Wie man die Zeit anhält“ im dtv-Verlag) von Matt Haig ist ein bisschen von beidem. Eine emotionale und tiefgründige Geschichte verbunden mit großartigen Wahrheiten.

Dieses Buch ist einfach lesenswert.

Now – „How to stop time“ (published in german language with the title: „Wie man die Zeit anhält“, dtv Verlag) by Matt Haig is a little bit of both. An emotional and deep story with meaningful insights.

You just have to read this book.

Buchcover der deutschen Ausgabe (zum Download auf https://www.dtv.de/buch/matt-haig-wie-man-die-zeit-anhaelt-28167/ verfügbar)

Obwohl ich das deutsche Cover recht gelungen finde, habe ich mich in der englischsprachigen Ausgabe vergraben und diese genossen. Und das ist die Freiheit der Entscheidung: Ihr könnt ja für euch selbst wählen, welches Cover ihr besser findet und welche Sprache euch beim Lesen eher entgegenkommt.

While I find the german cover is pretty nice I chose to read the english version. And that is the freedom with decisions: you can choose yourself which cover you like more and which language you like better to read this wonderful book.

„How to stop time“ ist die Geschichte einer Suche.

Die Suche eines Vaters nach seiner Tochter, die Suche nach einem Sinn im Leben… vor allem, wenn dieses Leben länger gelebt wird, als normalerweise üblich.

„How to stop time“ is a story of a quest.

A father looking for his daughter, the longing for a meaning in life… and that more than ever when you are alive for more years than is normal.

„Time […] is a strange thing, isn’t it?“

(page 15)

Tom ist Geschichtslehrer – zumindest in dieser Zeit.

Das ist seine neue Identität – für die nächsten acht Jahre. So schreiben es die Regeln der Gesellschaft vor, in der Tom Mitglied ist. Deren „Vorstand“/ Gründer Hendrick, hat so seine ganz eigenen Auffassungen, wie man sein Leben als langsam alternder Mensch leben sollte:

Tom is a history teacher – in this time and place.

That’s his new identity – for the next eight years. At least thats what the rules of the society say, which Tom is a member of. The founder of this society, Hendrick, has his own thoughts of how to life your live when you are aging that slowly:

Zunächst einmal muss sich Tom in seinem neuen Leben zurechtfinden – und dazu gehört natürlich, seinen Schülern die Geschichte näher zu bringen. Das ist nicht immer einfach – stellt er bereits im Vorstellungsgespräch an der Schule fest. Aber Tom hat in Bezug auf Geschichte einiges an Wissen und Lebenserfahrung.

But first Tom has to get settled in his new life – which also means telling his students the facts and stories of history. That is not always easy, a thing which Tom realises as early as he is in the job interview at school. But Tom is history-proof and has some experience of life and that one was long and interesting so far.

„History isn’t something you need to bring to life.

History already is alive. We are history. History isn’t politicians or kings and queens. History is everyone. It is everything. […] (But) the point is: history is everywhere.

It’s about making people realise that. It makes you understand a place.“

(page 17)

Natürlich muss sich Tom auch mit dem sonstigen Schulalltag arrangieren. In seinem Fall heißt das, den Spagat schaffen zwischen Interaktion mit den anderen Lehrern und dem Leben nach den Regeln der Society. Nicht immer einfach, stellt Tom fest. Und irgendwann muss er doch den Regeln zuwider handeln und sich auf die ihn umgebenden Menschen einlassen. Zumindest ein wenig.

Während er diesen Spagat meistert, hat er auch Zeit zum nachdenken – auch darüber, wieso seine Situation so außergewöhnlich ist im Vergleich zu anderen Menschen.

So Tom also has to deal with the normal school-day, which means interacting with other teachers and living to the rules of the society. This is not always easy, Tom finds. And then comes the time, when he has to act against the rules of Hendrick and interact deeply with the people around him. At least a little bit.

While managing his life, Tom has also time to think – also about why his situation is so different from the normal life of ordinary humans.

„It occured to me that human beings didn’t live beyond a hundred because they simply weren’t up for it.

Psychologically, I mean. You kind of ran out. There wasn’t enough self to keep going. You grew too bored of your own mind. Of the way life repeated itself.“

(page 32)

Hinter all seinen bisherigen Leben und Identitäten und Jobs steht die Suche für Tom im Vordergrund. Die Suche nach seiner Tochter Marion. Sie ist genauso wie er. Sie altert nicht – oder extrem langsam. Und er erinnert sich in Rückblicken immer an seine Liebe zu Rose, der Mutter von Marion. Und wie diese Liebe unter keinen guten Sternen stand – auch aufgrund seines sich nicht ändernden Äußeren. Rose wurde älter, er sah nach außen hin immernoch aus wie ein Jugendlicher. Kein gutes Omen im 17. Jahrhundert. Vor allem, wenn man bedenkt, dass seine Mutter als Hexe ermordet wurde, weil sein Aussehen Verdacht erregt hatte…

So with all his lives and identities and jobs Tom is always searching. He is looking for his daughter Marion. She is the same as him. She doesn’t age – or age extremely slow. And he always thinks of his love for Rose, the mother of Marion. And how this love was not meant to be a long one – also for reasons of his not-aging. Rose grew older and he still looked like a younger man aged 17. Not a good thing in the 17th century and before that. And after all, Toms mother was killed for the suspicion of witchcraft and that also because Toms not aging expression has led people to false accusations…

„This is the chief comfort of breing four hundred and thirty-nine years old. You understand quite completely, that the main lesson of history is:

humans don’t learn from history.

The twenty-first century could still turn out to be a bad cover of the twentieth, but what could we do?

(page 131)

Wir begleiten Tom in „How to stop time“ auf seinem Weg in der heutigen Zeit, seinen Problemen damit, der Society, die Hendrick mit seinen Regeln gepflastert hat, zu gehorchen und erfahren auch, wie die Vergangenheit zu verschiedenen Zeiten für ihn war.

Wir erfahren von seinen Begegnungen mit Shakespeare, Scott Fitzgerald und Charles Chaplin. Wir erfahren von seinen wachsenden Zweifeln an Hendrick, von den Aufgaben, die er für die Society erledigen muss, und die nicht immer positiv enden – und wir erfahren, wie er sich als guter Mensch erweist, dem Freundschaft und ein gutes Leben immer wichtig waren – auch wenn die Umstände seines Lebens nicht immer einfach waren.

So lernen wir auch seinen guten Freund Omai kennen, der außerhalb der Society lebt – und auch ein sehr langes Leben führt, seit Tom ihn im Jahr 1767 in Tahiti kennenlernte.

We accompany Tom in „How to stop time“ on his way in these days and learn about his problems to obey the rules of the society, that Hendrick has so strictly built, and we also learn how Tom mastered life in different times of our past.

We learn about his encounters with Shakespeare, Scott Fitzgerald and Charles Chaplin. We learn about his growing doubts about Hendrick, about the tasks he has to do for the society (which not always have a good end) – and we get to know how Tom is a good human who is fond of friendship and a good life – also when life’s circumstances aren’t the easiest. 

And we get to know his friend Omai, who is living outside the society – and that since meeting Tom 1767 in Tahiti.

„People talk about a moral compass and I think that is it.

We always know the right and wrong for ourselves, the north and south. You have to trust it. […]

People can tell you all kinds of wrong directions, lead you aroud any corner. You can’t trust any of that. […]

Everything you need to know about right and wrong is already there. It comes as standard. It’s like music.

You just have to listen.“

(page 152)

Wie andere Menschen auch, hat Tom seine Zweifel und schlechten Zeiten – doch er hat auch die Kraft, diese zu überwinden.

Like so many others Tom also has his bad moods and headaches – but he has the power and the will to keep going.


Wird Tom seine Tochter finden?

Wird er Omai in die Society holen oder endet alles doch ganz anders?

Wie sieht Toms Zukunft aus?

Ihr wollt es herausfinden? Lest „Wie man die Zeit anhält“ – es lohnt sich.


Will Tom find his daughter?

Will he get Omai into the society or does everything work out a different way?

Whats in Toms future?

You want to know it? Read „How to stop time“ – it is worth it!


„History was – is – a one-way street.

You have to keep walking forward. But you don’t always need to look ahead.

Sometimes you can just look around and be happy right where you are.“

(page 321)


~ Charles Martin: „The Mountain between us“ ~

Wann habt ihr das letzte Mal ein Buch gelesen, dass euch von der ersten Seite an gefesselt hat und bis zur letzten Seite dieses Gefühl nicht verloren hat?

When was the last time you read a book that had you from page one until the very last word?

Für mich war dieses Buch eine Spontanentdeckung: kurz vor der Zugfahrt noch in den Buchladen gegangen um ein bisschen zu schauen was es Neues so gibt – und schon wieder ein Buch in den Händen gehalten – und mitgenommen.

For me this was a spontaneous thing – just before my train left the station I went into the bookstore to go and see what’s new in there. And there it was: the book that had me from page one and never left me for the last few days.

Ich möchte an dieser Stelle nicht zu viel schreiben – sonst verfalle ich noch in ein „zu viel verraten und zu viel schreiben“. Nur so viel: Das Buch – zumindest in der englischen Originalvariante – ist fesselnd, an manchen Stellen herzerweichend, menschlich und robust wie die Natur, durch die sich Ashley und Ben kämpfen.

At this point I don’t want to tell too much – but just this: this book – at least in the english original version – is gripping, heart-melting, human and tough – just like the nature that Ashley and Ben have to go through to survive.

Oh – eins noch… der Film mit dem deutschen Titel „Zwischen zwei Leben“ – kommt im Dezember in die deutschen Kinos. Ich werde ihn mir ansehen, bin allerdings jetzt schon zwiegespalten bezüglich der ein oder anderen Änderung gegenüber dem Buch, die man bereits im Trailer sehen kann… Wir werden sehen wie sich der Film gegenüber dem Buch schlägt…

Was meint ihr?

Oh – just one thing…. the movie with the german title „Zwischen zwei Leben“ – will be in cinemas at the beginning of December. I will go and see it, but right now I am a little bit confused about some changes between the movie and the book, which you can already see in the trailer … We will see which one is the better – the movie or the book…

What do you think?