I never met my great-grandparents,

but I am told they were extraordinary.


I am slightly obsessed with the notion of visiting the 1800s to meet them. And yet I must, fist shaking in the air, face the fact that this will never happen, can never happen.  I blame Stephen Hawking.He says that if it were possible to go back and change the flow of events, the universe would cease to make sense.  Not that it does, to me, anyway. Or poor Ebenezer.

When I first read Charles Dickens’ famous tale, I didn’t think of it as a time travel story. Did you?

But these time-warpingly tales are.  

 Timeslips, as they say in the UK

Time and Again by Jack Finney

This novel puts a 20th-century man, Simon Morley, into 1882 New York City.  In Finney’s world, all you need to go back in time is the power of the mind. Just lock yourself in a period-perfect 1882 apartment, reading nothing but the news and books of the day, wearing the clothes, eating the food, and you’ll eventually open the door and find yourself in 1882.
'11/22/63' by Stephen King
11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King
A thirty five year old high-school teacher is leading an ordinary life when his friend Al, who runs the local diner, reveals that his storeroom is a portal to 1958 and sets Jake on a mission to prevent the JFK assassination. (Note: No monsters or killer clowns. Instead, think butterfly effect and Occam’s razor.)  I read it last year along with my book group, the large-print hardcover version, 1200 pages, 3.5 pounds. Phew. It’s a lot of novel. But it’s a copiously cool page-turner and I finished it in a few days. (Ivanhoe is a mere 400 pages and it took me months to read it, not counting time off for spring vacation and strep throat.) King’s book has dry wit and heart-wrenching emotion on both sides of the rabbit hole.  It’s got enough drama to make a grown man cry ~ if he were the crying type, unlike Jake Epping, the burnt-out English teacher who grapples with his new-found power and the destiny that comes along with it.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Windy City librarian Henry DeTamble suffers from a syndrome in which he’s whipsawed involuntarily back and forth through time (and space, too, within a blessedly limited radius). Henry can’t control where he will travel or how long he will stay in each time period, though it appears that his time traveling is sometimes brought on by stress. Now there’s a reason to relax if I’ve ever heard one. Niffenegger keeps it simple by establishing the rule that no matter how out-of-sequence Henry is forced to live his life, everything happens only once, no alterations or do-overs allowed.
If I Never Get Back by Darryl Brock.
If you love baseball, a mystery and a love story, this one’s for you.
20th-century Sam Fowler ends up on the 1869 Cincinnati Red
Stockings and even becomes pals with Mark Twain.

Speaking of that Clemens guy…

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain

Hank Morgan, a regular guy living in Hartford, Connecticut in the 19th century, gets hit on the head with a crowbar (by a man named Hercules, no less) and wakes up in Camelot. It’s a pretty hilarious look at medieval times.


Andrew Sean Greer has a thing about time.

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells








I read Greer’s best-selling book, The Confessions of Max Tivoli, about a man aging backward. If you’re intrigued by the idea of a 10-year-old boy who seems to be a 60-year-old man (and who, half a century later, can pass for a 10-year-old boy), this fantasy with a twist is for you.

Now Greer is back with The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells. I’m currently entranced with Greta who lives the same life in three different time periods, improvising her way through, dodging heartbreak and disappointment at every turn.

The book opens in 1985 with Greta in crisis ~ her long-term boyfriend, Nathan, has left, and her brother, Felix, has recently died of AIDS. Severely depressed, Greta undergoes an experimental psychiatric treatment that ~oh yes ~ transports her back and forth to the lives she might have lived in 1918 and 1941.

In each life, things are the same but different. And in every life, Greta searches for happiness.

There’s no complicated mechanics of time travel to follow or even understand. Greer just shows us how circumstances affect our choices and what we might do differently…. if we had other lives and alter egos. Curious about the magical what-if?  Read the first few chapters here. Because who knows when the impossible will happen to you.



So, you’ve read the post ~ and you’re thinking,

there’s no mention of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon,  

or The Time Machine By H.G. Wells,

or Finney’s sequel From Time to Time.  

Have you read any of these?  

What’s your favorite time-travel book?

Toni 7/28/13

Cape Reading and Other Footnotes About One Family’s Reading While on Vacation.

Cover of "The Kite Runner"
Cover of The Kite Runner
Cover of "If You Give a Moose a Muffin (I...
Cover via Amazon

Cover of "Sister Carrie"

Cover of Sister Carrie

The Bat by Jo Nesbo (Patty) Hurrah for Harry Hole in this first in the series. It seems like it’s getting translated backwards. Olso’s Crime Squad’s Best.


Nani reading Meet Me at the Moon by Gianna Marino, a book we bought at the ultra-marvelous Brewster Book Store because one of us (not Nani) ripped the book flap. What a serendipity. Message: when you’re missing a loved one who’s off somewhere feel the warmth of the sun heating the earth and think of the warmth of the love from that person. We were all reassured.

Freedom-A Novel  by Franzen (Catherine)


Papi reading one of the Henry and Mudges by Cynthia Rylant. Even though Chloe and Lydia have Read Them All and are on to Other Authors, they get it: Rereading old favorites is like meeting an old friend on the street. Just because you’ve already loved that friend 20 years ago, you don’t spurn them upon meeting up again. Luke’s just getting into the Henry and Mudges. William’s heard a few via Skyping with Papi.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (Sarah)

The Philosopher’s Way by John Chaffee (John)


John is holding Claire and Claire is holding one of three Golden Books: Tootle (remember him? The engine that wanted to jump the tracks? OR Scuffy the Tugboat OR The Friendly Book. (We’ve probably bought several Golden Books every time we have a family visit, just for old time’s sake. They read good…bad grammar intended)

My Beloved Life by Sonia Sotomayor (Taly)

If You Take a Mouse to the Movies, If You Give a Moose a Muffin, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and other books in this series by Laura Numeroff read to all the kids sometimes by an adult, sometimes by Lydia and sometimes by a wee one who’s “learned” all the pages.

Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser (Patty)

The Last Refuge by Gregory Johnson (Doug)

How Children Succeed by (Jack)

Harry Potter–8-year old Lydia gave Harry to her Dad with this note:


Sheep in a Ship (note the ubiquitous Blue-Footed Booby)

IMG_0333 Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Sarah)

Cover of "Percy Jackson & the Olympians B...
Cover via Amazon

Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan (This is Lydia engrossed in TC. She’s already read the 1st 2 books in The Olympian series)


Silken Prey by Sanderson (Jack)

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otkuka (Ryan)

People Magazine (passed around and chortled over)

A Man Without Breath by Philip Kerr, a Bernie Gunther Novel. (John. He also says to start the Gunther novels with the initial trilogy) Quote from the back cover: “Just as youth is wasted on the young, history is wasted on the historians. It ought to be the exclusive property of novelists–but only if they are as clever and knowledgeable as Philip Kerr.” Chicago Tribune