The Time Traveler’s Wife is an extraordinary romantic fantasy written from two viewpoints: Henry who is a forced time traveler and his wife Clare, a normal person who has to adjust her life around Henry’s strange one.
Henry is diagnosed with a rare gene disorder that yanks him uncontrollably backward or forward into various times in his life. At one point, he meets his eight-year old self and has a conversation with him over a mug of Ovaltine. He meets Clare when she is six, and he, thirty six.
My hat off to Audrey Niffeneger for fearlessly setting up this complicated time traveling stage to tell a poignant but highly original love story. It is quite difficult to build a cohesive and seamless narrative that needs to take place in different times of each character’s life. But Ms. Niffeneger does the job brilliantly, with good sequencing and references to date, time, and ages so that the reader is not forced to wallow through what would otherwise have been a confusing mess in less skillful hands.
The Time Traveler’s Wife is not for everyone, though. One either loves it or hates it. Those who dislike it can find it annoyingly unrealistic, ridiculous, and maybe even boring. I happen to fall under the I LOVE IT category.
Despite the book’s surrealism, this is by far one of the most romantic books I’ve ever read. Observer’s review says, ” At its core, The Time Traveler’s Wife is an old fashioned love story….” Indeed it is. Central to the entire book is Henry and Clare’s enduring love. This, and the unusual way the author chose to tell a love story is what, for me, makes this book a keeper.
My favorite part : Henry’s letter to Clare. An excerpt:
“….Clare, I want to tell you, again, I love you. Our love has been the thread through the labyrinth, the net under the high-wire walker, the only real thing in this strange life of mine that I could never trust. Tonight I feel that my love for you has more density in this world than I do, myself : as though it could linger on after me and surround you, keep you, hold you….”
It’s a wonderful letter. There’s more in it, of course, but I wouldn’t want to give it all away.
If you’re in the mood for reading something different, pick up this book. I can’t guarantee you’ll like it, but you’ll certainly not be getting a run-of-the-mill kind of story.
My Mark : Excellent