By Zoë Foster
We’ve all heard of science fiction, horror, comedy, tragedy, even mashups like rom-com, or tragicomedy. But I would like to highlight the wonderful and highly under-recognized time travel romance. Admittedly, it is a small (though growing) genre, but it is one that so often is neglected. Time travel romance combines all the elements of romance with the spin and excitement of drama and history. Time travel romance tests the dynamic rhythms of love as it traverses the rigid structure of time.
I have by no means exhausted the depths of this genre, but I think it is safe to say that there are two powerhouses. The first is The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. It follows the love of Henry and Claire, Henry a time traveler who comes and goes without control and without warning; and Claire who waits for the ever-fleeting Henry — a man who has known her for few years but who she has loved her entire life. Their story takes place within a single lifetime, though the book challenges the linearity of time, the two falling in love with each other decades apart, and all at the same time.
The second and champion leader of the genre is, without a doubt, the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. It follows Clare (one could say the name is one of the defining characteristics of the genre) as she is thrust from her own time into mid-1700s Scotland, just before the Jacobite rebellion. Throughout the series she balances her life strewn across centuries, fighting for her family and her epic love.
Contrary to the title, I think it is apt to include not only time travel, but time-bending, time loops, immortality, etc. Anything which bridges the gap between love and time, themes of everlasting love, fleeting love, transcending love. Consider Groundhog Day, Age of Adeline, or The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, a mix of film and literature which all satisfy the beauty which is time travel romance.
While this genre is scarcely recognized — you won’t find a section in your local bookstore — it is one deserving admiration and exploration. Are you sick of mundane romance novels and feel that adventure books are lacking love and humanity? Now you know where to turn.