Audrey Niffenegger is a genius. The impact of time-traveling on love is such a clever idea. The issues the main characters deal with in their relationship are common (love, lust, guilt, desire, pain) but the reason for the issues is so unique (Clare’s husband keeps disappearing unexpectedly because he’s a time traveller).
This is the 6th book of my 100 book challenge and while I was reading it I felt like shouting from the rooftop that everyone should read this book. Sure, the ending was a bit disappointing. But I’ll get to that.
I’m the worst audience when it comes to stories about time travel. I always manage to get myself confused. In fact, the characters themselves don’t even have to time travel: a simple flashback in the story and I’m lost.
When watching movies, I’m forever getting my husband to pause the movie and explain what’s going on.
‘Who’s that guy?’
‘Wait, the guy from the café? Oh, I see.’
‘But wasn’t he wearing a red hat before?’
My husband is a very patient man.
So, when I sat down to read The Time Traveler’s Wife I was concerned. I’d watched/been confused by the movie of the same name a few years ago and wasn’t looking forward to all the jumping around in time.
But! I’m pleased to say that Niffenegger handles it extremely well. The book is structured brilliantly: each chapter starts with giving the ages of the two main characters and the date. The main bulk of the book runs chronologically – so it doesn’t seem like a complete dog’s breakfast – and there are little snippets of time-travel that slowly make more sense as the story unfolds.
The book is written from two points of view. One section of a chapter will be from the passionate, emotionally-torn time-traveller Henry and the next from his artistic, beautiful and dedicated wife Clare. And each of the sections are clearly and consistently shown. I like this. Some might say that it’s overdoing it, but for people like me who so easily get confused, it was a dream to read.
I got drawn into the book. I felt like I belonged to a world where time is not linear and at the same time one’s future has already been decided. I cried when it was revealed that one of the main characters would die. I felt cold in the winter chapters and could hear the music at the opera. I was completely absorbed by this book. And the feeling lingered even after I’d read the last page. I like that. A book should make you feel like it’s changed your life in some small way, and this one certainly did.
I was disappointed with the ending. I love a good twist at the end of a book and this one was a bit of a let-down. I guess I was expecting something shocking to happen, but with Henry being a time-traveller who had already witnessed his life pan out, unfortunately the reader had already seen it too.
Overall it was a great book and well deserving of being part of the 100 book challenge list.
In July 2014 I set myself the challenge to finish 100 must-read books before I die. For my ongoing tally click here.