In March, we introduced a new service: the Reading Doctor. Read more about Dr Louise here. And do feel free to request further prescriptions, as needed!
Prescription #9: something for time travellers
Time has taken on a new structure this year - some days feel even longer than usual, while weeks can fly past and blur into each other. Which books about time-travel would you recommend?
Time is a crucial element in story-telling, whether linear, retrospective, looping, or moving backwards and forwards. When a story starts determines what we know and what it means, and movements through the timeline of a narrative allow for revelation, prompting shifts in perspective, understanding and sympathy. Over time, characters evolve, things change, plots move on, all of these developments made clearer by shifts, jumps, and breaks in time. These books all do interesting things with time, and could be a good use of yours:
It was H G Wells who coined the phrase The Time Machine, in his 1895 novel, introducing time as the fourth dimension explored by a Victorian scientist and inventor.
The Time Travelers’ Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is primarily a love story, between a man with a genetic disorder which makes him travel unpredictably through time, and his wife, who must cope with his absences; time-travel becomes a vehicle for exploring distance and miscommunication in a relationship.
With the powers of Shakti, in Rajorshi Chakraborti’s recent novel, a young Indian woman is able to move back through the timeline of her own life to revisit her most happy memories; it’s a gift with a Faustian price.
The title character of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North is stuck in a time loop, returning to where he begins each time he dies, retaining all the knowledge of the lives he has already lived. Nothing changes, until it does, and then nothing can remain the same.
The anti-war novel, Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, follows the American soldier Billy Pilgrim through WWII and its aftermath, in a non-linear narrative told by an unreliable narrator, about his experiences travelling through both space and time.
The Chronoguard police all violations of time in Jasper Fforde’s novel The Eyre Affair, as literary detective Thursday Next pursues a master criminal through the world of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.
Reincarnation, immortality, time gaps and Horologists play havoc with time in David Mitchell’s fantasy epic The Bone Clocks.
Iain Pears re-imagines Arcadia, in a world-hopping, time-travelling extravaganza which sets an archaic utopia against a dystopian future. On the app which is available as a digital alternative to the printed book, the timeline of the novel looks like a branching, twisting, intersecting subway map.