Time Travel Novels

I think I have a problem with time travel romances.  I love time-slip novels – like Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series – which have two parallel narratives set in different times.  I love straight historicals.  But I can’t think of a time travel romance – or even time travelling novel that I loved – unless you’re including Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (a couple of hours on the Time turner doesn’t count in my book) or the Thursday Next Series (which is more dimension jumping than time travel).  And after reading a time-traveller the other week, I started to wonder why.

Fundamentally, I think that I find it very hard to believe there’ll be a happy outcome – and that’s what you want in romances – because one is either going to have to go back to their own time and be miserable, or one is going to have to stay where they are, and I never believe that that will continue to be happy past the last page.  After all, one member of the duo is living out of their time – either with a massive amount of knowledge about the future and the advances there are or with a massive gap in their knowledge of the modern world – and on top of that, everyone they ever knew/loved is either dead or not yet born and thus they’ll never see them again.  I text my sister daily, and speak to my mum at least twice a week – and can’t imagine voluntarily chosing to put myself out of contact with them permenantly – and leave them wondering what has happened to me.

And that’s before you get to the fact that I’ve watched a lot of Scifi and fantasy TV over the years – from Star Trek to Crime Traveller and most of the variants in between – and have had it drilled into me that when you’re messing around in the past it’s very easy to change the timeline of the future and destroy the world.  And most books just ignore The Implications and don’t mention it or skim over it somehow.

Am I over thinking this?  Probably.  But that’s the kind of person I am.  I once spent 20 minutes crying on my Grandma’s lap because I’d just realised that Kaiser Wilhelm was Queen Victoria’s grandson – and wouldn’t she have been so upset if she’d realised he’d started a war against his grandma’s country.  Yes.  I was a strange 8 year old.  But that gives you a clue as to how my mind works.

So in the spirit of the New Year, does anyone have any really good time travel recommendations for me?  Books that I won’t buy and then ignore in favour of everything else ever because I’m convinced I’m going to hate them?  Because I got a copy of the first Outlander 18 months ago because everyone else was raving about it – and I still haven’t read it.  I took it on holiday with us back in 2014 as one of my paperbacks – and The Boy started reading it instead of me (he never takes enough books with him, but that’s another story) and he didn’t finish it either.  It sat under our coffee table for another year after that.

Go on.  Change my life. I dare you.

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6 thoughts on “Time Travel Novels

  1. I typed a reply but it disappeared! It said something like…

    Do you like children’s books? If so, have you read Tom’s Midnight Garden? It’s a lovely book. 🙂

    I love time-slip children’s/YA novels – but I have to make sure I don’t over-think them when I’m reading them!

  2. Have you read any of the Outlander series? Time travel is at the heart of them and I am generally enjoying them so far, though the violence is horrific in parts. My absolute favourite time travel novel is the imaginatively titled A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley. Don’t let the title put you off, if you haven’t read it, it may tick a few of your boxes.

  3. @WIWilde says:

    I don’t think you are over thinking it. I would be the same…..lonely without all of you. As you know I don’t read sci fi or (intentionally) time travel. Got completely fed up with Barbara Erskine on that basis. Only one I enjoyed having accidentally bought The Time Traveller’s Wife. But sad for all the reasons you cite.

  4. Finally! Someone that is having a hard time finding good time travel books! I love the PC series too, I just started it and I’m on book two. I liked The Time Machine by HG Wells (a side note: Warehouse 13 tv show HAS HG Wells on it, and the plot is entertaining and fun!), Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is fabulous and lengthy and finally 1632 by Eric Flint is awesome, wacky, and fun! Lots of excellent world building and good, real characters.

    Hope those help!

  5. Have you tried any of Connie Willis’ Oxford time travel books? The Doomsday Book is admittedly heartbreaking, but To Say Nothing of the Dog is one of my go-to cheer up books. (It neatly gets around the problem of one-or-the-other halves of a pairing being out of their own time, but I won’t spoil it for you)

    • I have a vague memory that I may have read A Traveller in Time – I certainly read Alison Uttley’s childrens books, so it feels like I might have then sought out her adult stuff.

      I have Outlander 1 and two waiting to be read – and judging by the comments on this I perhaps should bump them further up the list!

      Ill take a look for the Connie Willis too – although with the current state of the pile it may take me a while to get around to buying it!

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