Thursday, January 1, 2015
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Published March 2004 by Gale Group
Source: Bought this one
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.
Four years ago I read Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry (my review) and, while I found much to like about the book, I was left wondering "do I bother with The Time Traveler's Wife?" But I had it on my shelves already and, because it is so beloved by so many, I decided to add it to my 2014 TBR Challenge list of books. Even then I put it off to the very end of the year.
Why???? Oh yeah...time travel. A subject I've always shied away from. Until 2014 when two of my favorite books involved time travel.
When I mentioned in a December post that it was taking me a long time to read this book, many of you commented that it's a book I needed to make sure to take my time with and be focused on. So very true. It turns out to have been a good thing that I didn't have the time to blow through this book; it's a book that demands that you pay attention. And to really think. Because Niffenegger gives readers a whole new way to think about time travel. What if you really couldn't change anything by going back in time? What if you couldn't control time travel? What if someone moved back and forth in time continually?
Even though the time travel piece of this story is key to the entire novel, The Time Traveler's Wife is, at its heart, a love story. Not just the love of a man and a woman but love of family and the pain that love can create. Niffenegger's love story is, in fact, filled with pain but also the redemptive power of love. And there is Clare. As much as I came to care about Henry, it was Clare who carried the story for me.