Audrey Niffenegger's innovative debut, The Time Traveler's Wife, is the story of Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity in his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous, his experiences unpredictable, alternately harrowing and amusing.
The Time Traveler's Wife depicts the effects of time travel on Henry and Clare's marriage and their passionate love for each other as the story unfolds from both points of view. Clare and Henry attempt to live normal lives, pursuing familiar goals--steady jobs, good friends, children of their own. All of this is threatened by something they can neither prevent nor control, making their story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Novels that mix science fiction and romance often falter on one side or the other, but Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife works brilliantly on both levels. Niffenegger cleverly establishes daring Henry DeTamble's ability to jump back and forth across decades without getting bogged down in details. Instead, she fleshes out the grounded relationship between Henry and his passionate, ever-patient wife Clare Abshire, capturing both characters' complex emotions about Henry's extraordinary powers and touching our hearts. We were completely immersed in each page of this magical voyage, but fair warning: brace yourself for the ending!
Customer ReviewsSee All
Favorite book ever
Have read 30+ times
I kept waiting for this book to become something interesting but it didn’t. The time traveling concept was interesting but the author relied too much on dialogue and sex scenes to tell her story.
I knew this was a movie quite a long time ago, but assumed it was a chick flick and I wouldn’t be interested. Then recently I read it in a list of science fiction books that mentioned that the story really did involve time travel, which got me interested in it.
I’m glad I saw that list as I really enjoyed this book.
The woman in the title is Clare, and the story revolves around her future husband, Henry. Henry has a genetic disorder that causes him to occasionally, and without any control over it, travel through time and space to somewhere else, with only his body, no clothes or shoes, or even fillings in his teeth. Wherever he was, his clothes just fall empty to the ground. How long he stays is unpredictable. He’s frequently beaten up, but has learned to fight, to steal, to pick locks, etc. in order to get clothes, food and water on his travels. Most of his travels, at least the ones detailed in the book, are too familiar places, including hanging out with himself at other ages.
He repeatedly goes to a meadow near Clare’s house, beginning when Clare is six years old and Henry is 28. They become friends quickly, but by then Henry knows they’ve already met and married in “real time”. One one of his trips, when he’s older, he recites for Clare to write down a list of dates that he memorized for when he travels to her, so she can always have a set of clothes prepared for him.
Time moves on, Clare gets older…. She hasn’t told many people about Henry because as the few she has don’t believe her, other than her having a childhood “imaginary friends.” Henry’s already told her they get married in her future, and as she becomes a teenager she keeps trying to seduce him, but he remains a gentleman. Clare’s friends, who don’t know about Henry puzzle over why she won’t date boys through high school.
Once they meet in “real time” Clare recognizes Henry, who is younger than he was the first time he traveled to Clare’s meadow, so he has no idea who she is. But they hit it off, and he quickly dumps his current girlfriend so they can date and marry, etc.
It takes a little effort to keep track of the dates and Clare and Henry’s ages. But it’s worth it.
As the book moves on previous chapters’ foreshadowing starts to clarify, for the characters and for the readers. It gets a bit sad once it’s clear that according to Ms. Niffenegger’s time travel rules once he’s experienced something, there’s nothing anyone can do to change it, it’s happened, or it will happen exactly as he saw it. What’s going to happen becomes utterly inevitable, even if we don’t want it too.
Ms. Niffenegger doesn’t go into the mechanics of Henry’s travel, and that’s just as well. It’s just something that happens and the story goes with it.
Overall I very much enjoyed this book, and I’m looking forward to the eventual sequel the author is working on (following one of Henry’s relatives with a similar genetic condition).