Author: Audrey Niffenegger
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2003
I’m still a bit dazed from just having finished this book. When a book is good, it’s sticks around, like the characters are in the room. Clare & Henry are still here.
I'm probably the last person on earth to have read this. I’ve been hearing about this book for a long time. I wasn’t sure what I’d make of it. I’d heard it’s sci-fi. I had visions of Jeff Goldblum coming out of that transporter in "The Fly." I heard romance and thought of heaving bosoms. It’s nothing like that. It’s amazing and original.
Henry first meets Clare when he is a 28 year old librarian and she is a 20 year old art student. Claire has known Henry since she came upon him naked in her backyard, when she was six. He doesn’t know her from a hole in the ground; she’s loved him all her life. Henry has a genetic condition called Chrono-Displacement Disorder. This genetic mutation causes him to disappear and then reappear in another time as a reaction to stress. Henry thinks of it as a type of epilepsy.
Clare and Henry’s real-time romance is perfectly ordinary, except for Henry’s unpredictable disappearances. They date, marry and try to have a normal life. Clare is often left alone, waiting. Henry never knows where he will reappear or what perils he’ll face. Time travel is not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s confusing and risky, not to mention the pain of knowing too much about your future and not being able to do a thing about it.
There is no "Grandfather Paradox" here. Henry tells Clare that things only happen once. You can only make choices in the present. What you do in the past has no effect on the present. So, Henry can meet his younger self without the universe imploding! No disappearing a la Marty McFly either.
The story is told in the first person of both Henry and Clare. Pay attention to the footnotes at the beginning of each scene: (Clare is 13, Henry 43). It helps keep track of what is happening when.
There were parts that were very hard for me to read. Some very sad parts, but it was so well written that you feel their pain. That’s good writing. The love of Henry and Clare feels real as well. These are just ordinary people living with extraordinary circumstances. They could live next door.
I really liked this book. It took me no time to read it. It was a "just one more chapter" book for me. It’s 518 pgs felt like nothing.
Of course, The Time Traveler’s Wife is being made into a movie starring, Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana. Shooting starts this August. Please, read the book first!