Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Audrey Niffenegger/THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE

Henry is a librarian who travels back (and sometimes forth) in time. His time travels are usually triggered by stress. His first time-travel experience occurred when he was in a car accident as a child and witnessed the death of his mother.

Clare is an upper-class Catholic girl who lives a comfortable life. She first sees Henry appear out of nowhere at the age of six. Henry becomes a secret and a mentor. He visits Clare often, until she's 18 and they endure a two year separation.


They fall in love. Henry continues to time travel--it's out of his control. Eventually he finds a doctor who identifies Henry's condition (he has a gene abnormality) and concocts various medicines to help Henry stay put. None of them work.

When Clare tells Henry she wants to have a baby, he initially agrees. But after seven miscarriages, he tells her they have to stop. But Henry time travels and has sex with Clare at a younger age, so she does get pregnant one more time--with a daughter who also time travels.


THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE is ultimately a love story. It's told in first person, present. The POV shifts between Clare and Henry. The sections are dated, and out of chronological order. Reading each section independently is like viewing a work of art. The author puts the reader so completely in the moment with vivid, detailed description and honest portrayal of emotion. But the sections are short. I found myself getting annoyed at all the jumping around. I almost felt like the author couldn't carry this style of prose for an entire novel, so the sections became a gimmick. I would have preferred at least chapter-length dedications to a particular theme/piece. Also, I wasn't entirely buying the 'voices' between Henry and Clare. They sounded too similar. Also, Henry does a lot of drinking and loses himself for a few years. I wanted more story around this.

I would recommend the book, however. It is beautiful. Would I read it a second time? No. But I am so very glad I got through it once.

I rate it very good.


If you don't want to read it, you can wait for the movie, which I just found out should be coming June 2008.

9 comments:

moonrat said...

i really love this book--you're right that it has some artistic flaws, but the plot is so careful and imaginative. it's also a safe gift buy for just about anyone (or at the very least, any woman or omnivorous man).

angelle said...

i really really love this book. it's so creative, imaginative, yet incredibly well put together. you can tell she really spent time plotting it out, making sure she covered her bases.

see, i'm anal abt time plots. i get upset when ppl mix up their time travel theories and things don't make sense. but audrey never makes that mistake, at least not in any glaring way i saw. everything looped around, came full circle, and MADE SENSE. remarkable. must have been a doozy to write without an outline (hehe, moonie, i hear u snickering already).

cyn said...

when i bought this, i was never reading anything from the bestsellers list. but i picked it up on a lark and what i read on the back cover (and probably some of the first page) drew me.

it really resonated for me. i thought the plot very original and the prose well written. i didn't have trouble with the short chapters and jumping around. the story really pulled me in. and i can still remember the last scene of her book.

considering i read this maybe three years ago, that's truly saying something.

ChristineEldin said...

I love this blog!!!
Love discussing books, love the opinions!

Precie said...

I heart TTTW. Honestly, it's on my short list of absolute favorites. I had gripes with language and little things, but what I LOVED about it was how the structure so brilliantly embodied the thematic underpinnings. And yet, as innovative as it was from a technical standpoint, I never felt that the stylistics overwhelmed the actual emotional and psychological story...heck, I sobbed continuously throughout the last 100 pages.

TTTW calls us to redefine our concept of everlasting love...and true devotion. It takes romance to the greatest extremes. And the first person present tense POVs were, I felt, perfect specifically because, for someone like Henry (and therefore, for the woman who loves him), there is no clearly defined past.

(Christine---You know I respect your opinion...I just can't resist any opportunity to gush about TTTW.)

moonrat said...

that is EXACTLY how i feel! you just made me realize. thanks, precie.

Precie said...

:)

Matthew said...

My name is Matt from Regal Literary.

If you enjoyed TTW, you might be interested in knowing that Regal Literary is giving away ten advanced reader's copies and three first edition hardcovers of the new Audrey Niffenegger book, Her Fearful Symmetry, on October 1st in a lottery to anyone who joins the facebook page as a fan and sends an e-mail to hfs@regal-literary.com. Good luck!

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Her-Fearful-Symmetry/68080996784

Efflorescence said...

I absolutely agree with with Precie and Moonrat! This book is heart wrenching yet so beautiful. If you loved this, I highly recommend that you read the authors next book 'Her fearful symmetry' Completely different plot but provoked the same sobbing response from me!