4 books that flagrantly disregard temporal boundaries, brought to you by us at 4th Estate.
The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
There’s time travel and then there’s time travel plus love. If you meet a pretty lady in the library where you work and she seems to know you, says your name breathlessly and wants to go for dinner, it could just be your lucky day. But if you’re Henry DeTamble, this is your rare genetic, time-travelling condition surprising you yet again with a message from your future. In a riposte to J.P.Hartley’s ‘the past is a foreign country: they do things differently there’, Henry will only understand present circumstances once he’s travelled to his new lover’s past, which is in his future. This is the story of Henry and Clare; Clare meets Henry when she’s six, but Henry only meets Clare when he’s 36. Niffenegger’s feat in this novel is to convince the reader that Henry’s time travelling condition isn’t so weird at all; she uses it not of itself but to intensify the love story between Henry and Clare. And what a love story it is. Snobs: forget all the stuff you’re heard. This is the ultimate book to read and re-read, and it’s better than One Day. Read it, fall in love with Henry and Clare and watch the pages swell as they become waterlogged with your tears. Just never, ever watch the film.
Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer
After her first day at boarding school, Charlotte Makepeace lies in bed, trying to make sense of her new surroundings. But in the morning, everything seems so different. And why does that strange little girl keep calling Charlotte her sister? Slowly, Charlotte begins to understand – every night she swaps places with Clare, a pupil at the same school back in 1918. Charlotte Sometimes portrays the loneliness and disorientation all of us have felt as children, while capturing the desolation of a country recovering from an unparalleled trauma.
Q: A Love Story by Evan Mandery
Would you give up the love of your life on the advice of a stranger? How about a time-travelling stranger claiming to be your future self? This is the predicament faced by the unnamed narrator of Q by Evan Mandery. Head over heels in love with eponymous Q, the woman of his dreams, our hero has whole life mapped out – that is until he meets an alarmingly familiar sixty year-old man who tells him that above all, he must not marry Q.
The Time Machine by H. G. Wells The futuristic world depicted by Wells is at first utterly alien – a delightful and beautiful species called the Eloi tread the terrain of a year so distant it is unfathomable: 802,701 AD. But a creeping familiarity sets in as the Victorian scientist digs (quite literally) beyond the surface, excavating a most vicious of class war rooted in the injustices and inequalities of his contemporary world. Wells guides us on a short but impactful journey of possibilities, the fantastical elements forcing us to confront questions we’d rather side-step in day-to-day life.
Words by Tara Al Azzawi
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