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6 Books like Outlander: Love Across Time & Space

Emma Dovener itcherHaving been a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s ‘Outlander’ series for years, I’m thrilled that the rest of the world seems to be falling in love with Jamie Fraser, too – thanks in large part to the Starz TV adaptation that premiered in the U.S. last August. If you’re looking for other delicious time-travel romances, look no further than these books like ‘Outlander’; from the pretender to the throne, ‘Beyond the Highland Mist’ to the science-packed ‘Timeline’. ~ Emma Dovener

“Je suis prest…”

When 20th-century army nurse Claire Randall suddenly finds herself in 18th-century Scotland running from the sadistic ancestor of her modern-day husband, and being married off to a 23-year-old Highland Scot, it sets off a series of events that span eight books (plus assorted novellas and short stories), two hundred years, and at least two continents.

Gabaldon’s stories are intricate, detailed, and far more literary than your average ‘historical romance.’ If you liked ‘Outlander’, and you’re looking for some other books that have a similar theme or premise, you’ve come to the right place!

Just like the Clan Fraser, I am ready. Ready to dive into a juicy selection of books like ‘Outlander’ featuring time-hopping lovers, fish-out-of-water feminists, and – in one case at least – angry aliens.

If you are also a fan of the televised version of the book series, you might want to check these selected shows like ‘Outlander’ as well.

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Books Similar to ‘Outlander’…

‘Beyond the Highland Mist’ (Karen Marie Moning, 1999)

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Published eight years after Gabaldon introduced a virginal Jamie Fraser to women the world over, Moning gave us seven books of the predatory Sidheach James Lyon Douglas. Hawk to his friends.

With mixed reviews, the ‘Highlander’ series will certainly appeal to fans of Moning’s later supernatural ‘Fever’ series (the first of which, ‘Darkfever’ was published in 2007), and whilst it is arguably less well-researched than ‘Outlander’ it’s an easier book to grapple with than Gabaldon’s 640 page tome – which is nothing compared to ‘A Breath of Snow and Ashes’, the 1400-page sixth book in the series.

Similarity Match: 80%
On the surface, the two series seem very similar; with modern women travelling back to pre-industrial Scotland. However, the characterisation, and the style of writing, are quite different. Somewhere between ‘Outlander’ and ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, ‘Beyond the Highland Mist’ is not for the prudish of temperament.

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‘Timeline’ (Michael Crichton, 1999)

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‘Timeline’ is not, primarily, a romance. Nonetheless, it is a bloody brilliant book about a group of history students who travel back to Medieval France using quantum foam technology – some of whom find love along the way.

As is typical of Crichton, the research and detail that go into the writing of ‘Timeline’ give it the same grounding in historical reality as ‘Outlander’ – interestingly, both authors come from a scientific background, with Crichton graduating with an MD from Harvard Medical School, and Gabaldon holding a PhD in Behavioural Ecology.

Similarity Match: 70%
Less about the romance, and more about defeating the baddies, ‘Timeline’ has a similar respect for historical accuracy to ‘Outlander’. It also has André Marek – a character that should appeal to fans of Jamie Fraser.

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‘Doomsday Book’ (Connie Willis, 1992)

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Winning both the Hugo and Nebula awards, ‘Doomsday Book’ is about a different kind of love – that between a mentor and a mentee.

When his student, Kivrin, is sent to the 14th century, it is Mr. Dunworthy’s fatherly efforts to locate her that lend the book much of its tenderness. Willis has a novel take on avoiding paradox, and writes some lovely characters.

‘Doomsday Book’ is succeeded by ‘To Say Nothing of the Dog’ (1998) and ‘Blackout/All Clear’ aka ‘Blitz’ (2010), also detailing Oxford historians’ trips to the past.

Similarity Match: 55%
Like ‘Outlander’ protagonist, Claire, Kivrin copes admirably with the struggles of being a modern woman in an alien time. Nuggets of humour and depictions of daily life are reminiscent of Gabaldon’s warmth and eye for detail.

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If You Like ‘Outlander’, You Will Like…

‘Outlander’ is all about a modern woman trying to negotiate her way through an unfamiliar time. The following suggestions involve time-travel, but not to the distant past.

‘The Time-Traveller’s Wife’ (Audrey Niffenegger, 2003)

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Released as a film in 2009, ‘The Time-Traveller’s Wife’ follows the lives of Clare, and her time-travelling husband, Henry. Niffenegger rather sidesteps the paradox problem – often having two versions of Henry in the same place at the same time, for example, but the cause of travel is unique.
 
 

Both a science-fiction novel and a romance, ‘The Time-Traveller’s Wife’ busts genre norms in a similar way to ‘Outlander’ and the connection between the two central characters is as strong as that between Claire and Jamie.

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‘Imzadi’ (Peter David, 1992)

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I accept that by adding this to the list I have outed myself as a true Trekkie, but this is a beautifully written story about the love of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’s’ Will Riker (played by Jonathan Frakes) for Deanna Troi (played by Marina Sirtis).

The narrative flits back and forth in time, but is fluid and clear, whilst the time-travel mechanism itself is so deliberately alien that you’ve no need to worry about technicalities.

Unlike in ‘Outlander’ or the ‘Highlander’ series, Riker travels back in time by choice, and with a specific goal in mind. The similarity lies in the central relationship between Riker and Troi, who will not be separate by time, space, or even death.

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‘Do You Remember the First Time?’ (Jenny Colgan, 2004)

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Described by one reviewer as ‘time-travel but not’, Colgan’s offering is about sensible 32-year-old Flora’s sudden and fairly inexplicable transformation into her 16-year-old self. Colgan might not do a fantastic job of explaining the whys and wherefores, but it’s an interesting concept, and a good jolly read if you can get past the unlikelihood of the premise.

 

Central to the novel is the idea that for every person there is another with whom they just ‘fit’ – just as with Claire and Jamie. I would recommend running yourself a bubble bath, and reading this with a glass of wine in hand.

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Fire up the Time-Machine…

If you’ve enjoyed these books like ‘Outlander’ there are so many other time-travel books to try. I’d recommend starting with H. G. Wells’ seminal ‘The Time Machine’, Richard Matheson’s 1975 work, ‘Bid Time Return’, and if you like a bit of children’s fiction, Philippa Pearce’s ‘Tom’s Midnight Garden’ or Madeleine L’Engle’s ‘A Wrinkle in Time.’

If I’ve missed a book like ‘Outlander’, please do lend me your time machine so that I can go back and rectify my mistake. Or leave a comment so I can edit…

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