Review: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

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.   

20 Responses

  1. I don’t know why the spacing on this post is all weird, but even though I’ve tried editing many times, I can’t fix it. I wrote it in Word then copied and pasted it here. I hate the way it looks!!!!

  2. I adored this book. Like most people, it took me a while to get into it and I almost put it down forever because I bought it a while before it got popular, so I didn’t know that it ends up better than it starts. I’m so glad I stuck with it. I really, really, loved the characters, and although it can be slightly confusing with all the time jumping, I really felt it was so worth sticking it out. Dangit, now I’m going to have to go reread it.

  3. I loved this book too, although for me I was into it from the very beginning and basically didn’t put it down for a day and a half until I finished it. I can see what you mean about a 6 year old girl befriending and hiding a 30 something man… definitely did not think of how creepy that is until now (I have no kids). I’m glad you liked it so much, and you’re right about it being a great book for book clubs.

  4. Lisa,
    First, you can’t edit in word and then import it into WordPress – it just doesn’t translate well (trust me, I’ve tried)! Second, glad to hear that you enjoyed the book. Funny, I never thought the whole 6 year old 30 year old thing creepy. Having said that, I read The Thornbirds a while back and was freaked out when I finally watched the mini-series with Richard Chamberlin – I kept feeling like Father Bricissard (sp?) was some kind of pedafile!

  5. I loved this book from the get go. I don’t know if I could bear to watch the movie, though. I cried at the end of the book. I’d probably disgrace myself in the theater.

  6. Well, yes. It does seem everyone loves this book. I enjoyed it but won’t go so far as to say I loved it.

    Softdrink, you cried?? Wow. I agree the end was sad, but more in a pathetic way, IMO. I thought it was quite selfish of Henry to tell her about that last visit, because it created another situation where all she could do was wait. Maybe she’d have gotten on with her life if she didn’t know she was going to see him again as an elderly woman. It really bugged me.

    My group is going to have a lot to talk about on book club night next Sunday!

  7. I loved the book.
    I was unaware of the movie though. Thanks for throwing that out there for us.

  8. A friend raved about this book and I tried to read it a while back. I hate it but never made it past the first fourth of the book. I guess I should have read more but it was excruciating to me…

  9. This book is a great favorite of mine. My bookclub read it; It was my choice! There were some differing opinions so it turned out to be a good discussion. I especially enjoyed the Chicago setting, where I used to live.

  10. I really liked this book, couldn’t put it down once I started it. I wish it had showed more of Claire’s personality, though. She always seemed to be just waiting on the sidelines. I am eager to see the film when it comes out.

  11. I did miss your posts while you were busy w/ your family. I’m so glad that your step-dad is doing better! Happy to have you back!

  12. I’m with crystalgable on this one. I couldn’t really connect with the characters and didn’t care what happened to them. My daughter loved it, though, so I’m definitely in the minority.

  13. Haha!! Lisa, you’re not the last person to review it because I haven’t read it yet. 🙂

    Oh, and there’s a way to delete the code that makes it all funny like that. I’ll email you.

  14. Well, I must be living under a rock because I have no idea what this book is about and I still don’t because I always skim past the plot reviews for books I haven’t read yet but know I want to. Having said that, this book is now waiting for me at the library and I can’t wait to read it.

    FYI- when you write in word and copy it into wordpress, you carry over way to much code. It’s best to write directly in wordpress or use notepad or wordpad. When you copy and paste from those programs it doesn’t carry over the code.

  15. I remember loving this book.

  16. I read this awhile back, and I may be the only one I know who didn’t love it. I enjoyed the book, but I really hated Henry (I”m not sure why), but I couldn’t get past that enough to really love the book.

  17. […] Picoult and The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. While some may claim that they are the last person to read The Time Traveler’s Wife, the honor is actually all […]

  18. It’s an awesome book. Clearly, you aren’t the last book blogger to have read it! Is the movie out yet?? I can’t wait to watch it 😀

  19. I read this book years ago and am still talking about it – it’s probably on my top 10 list (not including classics). An enjoyable surprisingly fresh storyline that keeps you wanting more.

    Read it!

  20. […] Picoult and The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. While some may claim that they are the last person to read The Time Traveler’s Wife, the honor is actually all mine. Perfect Match will also be the third […]

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