Sunday, July 6, 2008
Title: The Time-Traveler's Wife
Author: Audrey Niffenegger
Rating: 5 out of 5
First sentence: CLARE: It's hard being left behind.
Back in 2007, Chris at Book-a-rama thought that she was the last person on Earth to read The Time Traveler's Wife.
You're not, Chris. I just finished it last night. :)
When a book is as popular as this one was , I often wait a very long time to delve into it (unless I read it before it become the "in" book. I don't like reading books at the height of their popularity. So I patiently avoid all of the gushing reviews, and let it sit there for months, sometimes longer. This one has been sitting on my bookshelf since December 2006.
It finally caught my attention last week. Once I picked it up, it was very hard to put it down, much to the consternation of my husband and, yes, even Baby Maya!
Henry is a reluctant time-traveller, possessor of some screwed up DNA. He can't help it, he involuntarily travels back in time without any forewarning. He can be gone for minutes, or days. His wife Clare, who first meets Henry when she is 6 (while he is time-travelling - although they are eight years apart in age, Henry does not meet Clare until he is 28), is not so linearly challenged, and always stays rooted to the present. The story is largely the story of their relationship, so don't be fooled by the title. It is not a science-fiction novel in any form.
Henry time travels; he does not change the past. When he learns too much about his future, he is left with the burden of living that reality without being able to do a thing to change it. Once married, Clare is burdened by the reality of waiting. Waiting for Henry to meet her childhood self, to experience all the memories she already has. Waiting for Henry to come back from an unknown time and place, sometimes okay, but often bruised, tired, or injured.
It's a book that really drew me in emotionally. I was vested in these characters, I ached when they were going through very painful circumstances. I wanted Henry's doctor to discover a cure, I wanted them to be happy. It's not that often that a book can make my heart pound with sympathy and anguish, and this one did.
For that, I'm giving it five stars. There were one or two small things that were left dangling that I really want to know more about. On a certain night in question, I really wanted to hear the perspective from Mark and Philip, Clare's brother and father. And, at one point, Henry states that he now understands what Clare's childhood friend Helen said to him at his wedding. But we never get to hear what she said (unless I missed it somehow). Small things, really, in an otherwise outstanding debut novel. I will definitely be reading more by Audrey Niffenegger in the future!
Other reviews of the Time Traveler's Wife can be found at:
If you have reviewed this book, and would like to have it listed here, just let me know!