I’m probably the last book blogger on the planet to read The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, so what can I say that hasn’t already been said about this book?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last few years, you know that this is the tale of Henry and Clare. Due to a genetic mutation, Henry time travels at random times to places in his past or future. He has no control over when or where he goes. Part sci-fi, part love story, this is a fascinating read.
The narration alternates between Henry and Clare. They meet for the first time in ‘real time’ when he is 28 and she is 20. She has known him all her life, because he began visiting her when she was 6 and he was in his 40’s. When they meet in real time, Clare is already in love with Henry, but he has no memory of those earlier visits, because they are in her past, but his future. Confused yet? Clare is a woman obsessed and is always waiting, waiting, waiting.. for Henry to appear, for her real life to begin, for him to return from his travels.
The beginning of the book disturbed me. When Henry time travels, he arrives naked, shivering, and ravenous, leaving his clothes and possessions behind in real time, so this is how 6 year old Clare meets him. The image of a little girl befriending a naked man in a meadow, keeping him a secret from her family, trusting him, bringing him clothes and food; as a mom of young girls, this bothered me. I didn’t like the cover for the same reason. I’m glad I stuck with it, though, because the last half of the book really took off.
Each section is preceded by a date and the ages of Henry and Clare, which was handy since you never knew where or when in time things were taking place. I would read a section then go back again to check the date and ages. I did this throughout the book and it interrupted the flow of reading for me, but without the reference none of it would have made much sense.
The Time Traveler’s Wife is a highly original book with interesting, flawed characters and an intriguing premise. Reading groups will find much to discuss. It is unique, unlike anything else I’ve ever read, and for that reason I would recommend it.
The movie, starring Eric Bana as Henry and Rachel McAdams as Clare, comes out in November.
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