Friday, July 27, 2012

Review: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

What took me so long to get around to reading this one?  Pure stubbornness. Sometimes I shy away from a book that is getting a lot of buzz, and this was one of those cases.  However, I'm so glad that I finally broke down and read it.  What a captivating read!

Synopsis:  From Goodreads, "When Henry meets Clare, he is twenty-eight and she is twenty. Henry has never met Clare before; Clare has known Henry since she was six. Impossible but true, because Henry finds himself periodically displaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. Henry and Clare's attempts to live normal lives are threatened by a force they can neither prevent nor control, making their passionate love story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable. The Time Traveler's Wife is a story of fate, hope and belief, and more than that, it's about the power of love to endure beyond the bounds of time."

Review:  Told in a series of non-linear stories that pop back and forth (and almost seemingly sideways) through time, The Time Traveler's Wife journeys through the life of time traveler, Henry.  In an interesting, and strangely plausible set up, time travel is explained to us as readers as a problem on the cellular level that makes a person slip to another time.  The only problem is, regardless of whether it's a medically explained problem or not, Henry has to deal with the consequences of popping up--unclothed--in a new time and place.  In his case, he relives gut-wrenching moments in his life, realizing that he really can't do anything beforehand to change these moments.  In a sense, it wasn't as if he could change the direction of time, but had to become an observer.  There was one slight exception to this, Clare, or was she always part of his destiny?

What a strange concept to imagine your future husband visiting you as a little child and even as a teenager.  How strange and angsty would that be to know that the person you had grown up seeing off and on was actually your husband at some future date?  In a strange way, it ended up feeling very sweet, nurturing, and romantic.  Henry and Clare have a relationship built over a long, non-linear amount of time.  Their crossings over time make for a strange relationship that no one would really be able to help walk them through.  How would you ever really deal with your husband leaving you for stretches at a time when it isn't his fault--just poof! and he's gone?   

As a finicky reader who switches books a lot, this one grabbed my attention and kept it.  Changing from character to character, from time period to time period, doesn't always work, but this one really worked for me.  Besides, that was the premise behind the book!  My empathy for Henry was always greater than my frustration, and Clare allowed herself to believe in him in such a way that really made this into the romantic novel that it was.  The novel is long, and can feel very descriptive at times, but with a good escape into different times and places, it flies by.  I'm just sad I waited so long to read this one.  My stubbornness must take note.

On one last note, I felt as though the movie version depicted more tension and anger between Henry and Clare than the book did.  In a way, I don't know that visually depicting it could reach the same emotional depth or understanding as the book.  That's just my opinion though!


*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based on a personal copy of the novel.

6 comments:

  1. Oh wow, I'm so glad you read this one!! It's one of my all time favorite books. I would so love to experience reading this book for the first time again. I was just so blown away by it…I think it's one of the most beautiful books I've ever read :) I've refused to see the movie still because I'm afraid of it ruining what I have in my head :p

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    1. The movie definitely did some things with their relationship (tension and such) that I didn't like. Their enduring love came through so much better in print than in a movie! Why didn't I listen to all of you when you all said how good it was?!?

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  2. I've honestly never had an urge to read this one. The phrase "non-linear" just about ends it.

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    1. No! It's really good. I promise. :)

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  3. For some reason I was expecting more time travel-ey action and less romance when I read this, so of course, I was a bit disappointed. But it really is a great book and I'm glad I read it anyway. Your review sums it up perfectly.
    Was blog hopping and found your blog :) New follower!

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  4. I am like you in that I shy away from books that everyone is talking about and read them later. I did not like her book Her Fearful Symmetry. Well, I did but the ending was so lousy and half-assed it took away from the rest of the book. I hear this one is much better, however, and I loved the movie so I want to give her another go. Good review. :)

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