April 25, 2007

The Time Traveler's Wife

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Author: Audrey Niffenegger
Pages: 518
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!


  1. I am SO GLAD you loved it! I don't know if you are a Friend's fan--but in Friend's a book isn't going the way one of the character's wants and he puts it in the freezer. When I finally understood what was going to happen in this book I "put it in the freezer" because I loved the characters and their love SO MUCH! It is quite simply an amazing idea, and a really well written book .

  2. LOL! I remember that episode. It was like watching an accident in slow motion and not being able to stop it.

  3. OK. Looks like one I have to have. I've seen it and thought general sci-fi. But, this loks pretty good.

  4. "Please read the book first" is right! I can't imagine how they'll do this one justice on film. We'll see.

    Glad you liked it! I just got my copy back from a friend who borrowed it months ago, and I'm feeling the urge to re-read.

  5. I really enjoyed this book. Glad to hear you did too :-)

  6. i thought i was the last person to read this book - i finally did it last month. i felt the same way about it you did: simply fabulous!

  7. Much awesome-ness book, and review. It hurt my head sometimes to try and remember who knew what, when and how come, but when I just read without thinking too much, it all made sense.

  8. I received this book as a gift in December. I don't know why I haven't gotten around to reading it yet, as I really want to!

  9. That book has been in my pile for a while and it just moved up. I've been a little unsure about it, but I know if you loved it, I will.

  10. I've wanted to read this, given your review I think I will. But it may be a while, my reading list is getting really long.

    Great review. Many thanks.

  11. I'm with Andi; I can't imagine how on earth they'll make this into a film. I absolutely loved the book, though. Glad you enjoyed it, too! It was one of my top five in 2005.

  12. Oh, heavens! I didn't know they were making it into a movie. I don't think that will work out. Thanks for telling me. I loved the book, so I think I'll skip the film.

  13. I thought this book was GREAT! In fact, I recommended it to one of my book clubs, comprised of much older women, who didn't like it. At all. They didn't read enough to discuss, which made me sad, being put off by Henry appearing to Claire (when she was a child) naked. Assuming some kind of pedophile thing...Anyway, the only part that was hard for me was understanding the time travel bits. I would get confused until I decided to abandon all hope of knowing whether he was going forward or backward and just live in the story. You're so right, now the story lives in me, and it's been a few years since I read it. It would be well worth a reread, and perhaps, I could follow it a little better. But, there I go, tring to make sense out of sci-fi as if it fits in an orderly world.

  14. Pedophile?! It's not like he had control of where he went. And I felt sorry for him ending up naked everywhere.

    There are people online who have made timelines for reading TTW. I don't know where they found the time but, hey, if it helps...

  15. I loved this book as well. I found the whole concept hugely creative and so well done. I loved the characters and the ending made me cry. Thanks for the info on the movie. I hope it is as well done.

  16. I loved this book too. I loved it so much that just reading your review gave me chills and made me miss the characters. It's just one of "those" books. My review is here: http://mercysnumber1fan.blogspot.com/2007/04/pick-it-back-up.html

    I even think this might be one of those books that NEEDS to be a movie. I can't wait to see how they portray Chrono Displacement in the movie.

  17. Just like everyone else, I loved loved loved this book. I haven't found anything like it since and have felt a little empty. :) I'm looking forward to the movie, but what I want more is another book that will affect me the same way--just so much emotion! Great review.

  18. I'm so glad there are so many people that like this book. I also couldn't put it down, I loved it tremendously. The only thing I didn't get is this: how exactly did Henry die? Because when it happened he was there with Clare, not in some other time at her house, when supposedly her father shot him. Also why did Clare's memory of that time had him with his legs intact?

    I'd be happy if someone cleared this up for me. However, despite the questions, this is definitely one of my favorite books. :)

    I'm very curious about the movie but I really don't think it will have the magic the book had. Oh well, maybe I'll be surprised :)

  19. **Spoliers**

    Kay- It's been a while since I read it but I do remember that first he was shot and then as he was dying he TT'ed back to Clare. So he died with Clare. I don't remember anything about his legs though.

  20. *SPOILER*
    That's the whole point. That would have been the normal thing. But the way I understood it he never left. He was always there and at one time he just said something like "it has already happened" and after a few moments he died. That's what I didn't get. :(

    BTW I am really sorry for not marking my last comment as spoiler :(

  21. I just finished the novel a few minutes ago and I feel empty! this book was AMAZING and now that I have finished it I feel like I have lost a part of myself! (i know Im a dork) this novel had such raw emotion, I actually caught myself crying at certain parts.. I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone! it is certainly the best I have read in a long time!!!!!!!!!!! it is a must read!

  22. I have never enjoyed a book so much... or been so moved.

    I was also confused by the end... my take is this...

    Henry (as he often does) travels to the same time twice, ,from two different points in his future. Henry A, footless, appears in the field and is mistakingly shot by her dad/brother. He immediately travels back to Claire on the porch, wounded. Nothing is left in the field but a blood mark. Henry B, traveling from prior to losing his feet, also appears in the meadow, only to become aware of his own death. There is a part where he says (I know how it happens now...). This is the Henry that Clare's dad talks to (he must think he is another hunter...) and the one that Clare runs outside to see.... who waves and WALKS away.

    Does this sound probable? I do wish this had been more clear....


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