Great works of fiction have been allowing readers to travel through time for many years. The likes of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and the Brontë sisters have taken us to a time, society and place completely out of sync with our own.
However, fiction is not always about going back in time – sometimes authors are brave enough to throw the usual linear timeline out the window and create something new and exciting that flips time on its head.
The reason I'm thinking about this at the moment is that I have just finished reading The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North. This bold new novel looks at what would happen if – after you died – you woke up exactly where you began your life with all the memories of your previous one. A daring premise on which to base a novel, but one that certainly works in North's favour. The more lives Harry August lives through, the more he begins to question our reason for being, the existence of a deity, and what our purpose on this planet really is.
Questioning our existence in this way creates a very thought-provoking and powerful work of fiction that will no doubt resonate with many readers – much like the incredibly daring The Time Traveler's Wife. In her intensely unique novel, Audrey Niffenegger used time travel to create one of the most heartbreaking and beautiful romances the world of fiction has seen for many years. The novel sees one half of the couple growing in the usual way and another jumping in and out through time, encountering her at the different stages of her life. It was a format which was hard to get used to at the start and often difficult to follow, but this entirely new structure saw readers the world over adjust and be rewarded with Niffenegger's unique voice.
Has a recent novel grabbed you because of its use of time? Or do you prefer fiction that takes you to another time entirely? What are some of your favourites? As ever, let us know in the comments.