This month we’re reading The Glass Painter’s Daughter by Rachel Hore and, in reverence to Rachel’s novel, which transports its readers between present-day and Victorian London, our CB Book Group member Anna Dixon (@AnnaRDixon) has picked her five favourite dual timeline/time slip novels. We’d love to hear yours too!
A Tale for The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
This book absolutely dominated my every waking moment as soon as I turned the first page. Unforgettable, philosophical and unputdownable. Meet Nao, a Japanese-American teenager whose father fell victim to the bursting of the dot com bubble, sending them back to Tokyo in disgrace, depression and poverty. Her diary is found washed up on a beach years later by Ruth, an uninspired novelist living on a remote island. It reveals Nao’s difficulty fitting in, her fathers continued suicide attempts, and the bond with her Buddhist nun great-grandmother which may just save her life. The two stories intersect beautifully, and with Ruth at our side we desperately try to piece together what happened to Nao and her family both before and after the tsunami, praying all the while that she is still alive.
Labyrinth by Kate Mosse
Any list of time slip novels had to include this one. Alice is volunteering on an archaeological site when she stumbles across two skeletons in a cave with a labyrinth drawn on the walls alongside some strange writing. This sets her on a journey of discovery of the past, where hundreds of years before, Alais is entrusted with a labyrinth ring and three books which hold the key to the whereabouts of the true Grail and its guardian. This is a secret she must guard with her life, and as Alais and Alice’s stories unfold, the book itself becomes a labyrinth (see what I did there) of twists and turns that will keep you hooked as well as keeping you guessing.
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
I strongly suggest before starting this book that you get yourself some reading snacks, because you’ll be in it for the long haul.
Kostova’s debut novel follows a young woman as she finds an old, Dracula themed book, that her father Paul says he found in his desk when he was at university. Paul had found out that his professor and mentor Rossi had found a similar book when conducting his own studies, and his research had led him to Vlad Tepes (also known as Vlad the Impaler), a 15th century prince. The more Rossi researched, the more he became convinced that Dracula is still alive, leading them all on the hunt for Vlad’s tomb, to find the answers they seek once and for all. Of course these aren’t the only answers they get, and Paul’s secrets and the mystery surrounding his wife all begin to unravel as his daughter searches for the truth.
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Love, fate, time travel – what more could you want? Although I’m sure we all enjoyed the movie, the book will always be better (most of all, the ending will always be FAR better). Clare and Henry have the most complicated love story of all. She met him when she was six and he was a grown man, and she married him when she was in her twenties and he was…still in his thirties. Henry has Chrono-Displacement Disorder (coined by his doctor when he finally convinced him of his problem), meaning that often at the worst possible times, he is ripped from the present and thrown into another moment in his past or future life. The ups and downs of their relationship are peppered with Henry’s disappearances, and Clare’s longing to live a normal life with him. Touching and beautiful, this one’s a keeper.
The House on the Strand – Daphne du Maurier
Daphne du Maurier wrote a fantastic novel about the unfortunate Dick Young, who accepts the role as guinea-pig for a drug his friend Magnus has created, in exchange for the use of his house in Cornwall. When Dick takes the drug he finds he is thrown back to Cornwall in the 14th century, following a man named Roger as he lives his life. This soon becomes addictive, and as Dick continues to go back he becomes disconnected from the modern world, wishing instead for the life he lives in the past, sharing Roger’s love for the beautiful (and dying) Lady Isolda. He uses this other world to escape the banality of his current one, even though when he is in the past he can’t interact with anyone there. This vividly descriptive, and rather unusual book which I found to be captivating, and I hope you will too!
Our September book of the month, The Glass Painter’s Daughter by Rachel Hore is now available from Simon & Schuster. Follow Rachel Hore on Twitter at @RachelHore and find out more about Rachel and her writing by visiting her website.