Book Review - The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Ok... I actually took a little humorous flak for reading a "chick lit" book... The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. True, I probably wouldn't have picked it up on my own, but it came recommended by someone who has a good track record in recommending books for me to read. And again they were right... I didn't see the novel as something that would only appeal to women. Yes, there is a strong romance undercurrent to the story, but the constant time traveling and event shifting made it highly interesting. There was also the question of what you would tell people if you knew what their lives would turn out to be.
Henry DeTamble and Clare Abshire have a unique relationship. Henry is a time traveler, someone who is thrown around in time and space without rhyme or reason. While married to Clare, he travels back to meet her when she's six and he's 36. But it's a strange meeting, as he appears from nowhere, and he always does so without any clothes (they don't time travel with him). They have a special spot in the meadow behind the house where she stores clothes for him to wear, and he becomes a regular part of her life as he can tell her when he'll appear next. He has to balance telling her how her life plays out (and the fact that they're actually married already) against letting her live the life out on her own. There are also times when the Henry that shows up is one that hasn't yet met her in his later life. That makes some of the meetings rather awkward, but they work it out as he knows it's possible given what he's been through already. The story works up to the climax of how his own life will turn out, and how it will affect Clare and their daughter.
I must have really liked this book, as I was taking time to read and savor it (as opposed to rushing through it in three days). The story shifts back and forth between Clare's and Henry's point of view (and voice), as well as between various points in time. Since Henry has no control over when he might shift out of the here-and-now, every important event is a stress point to see whether he'll make it through without disappearing. And since his reappearances can be anywhere (as well as sans clothes), the time travel isn't exactly safe. In fact, it can be deadly. And how do you explain to those you work with why you keep showing up naked and roaming the halls when you're supposed to be giving a lecture somewhere else? In terms of a story involving uncontrolled time travel, Niffenegger does a pretty good job coming up with a realistic view of how it would play out.
The Time Traveler's Wife worked on many different levels for me... I'm even more impressed given it's the author's first novel. This is one of the few books I'd probably want to read again in the future, and for me that's saying something...
Obtained From: Library