Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Sunday Salon: The Time-Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The Sunday Salon.com

Title: The Time-Traveler's Wife
Author: Audrey Niffenegger
Year: 2003
Country: USA
Pages: 546
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!

20 comments:

Table Talk said...

This is a book that actually bears reading twice and you can't say that about everything you read and enjoy. A friend of mine and her husband are in the process of reading it together and then discussing it. She says that their perspectives are totally different because they are identifying with different characters.

Charley said...

This book doesn't seem that appealing to me, but I've read and heard such lovely reviews of it that I think I should give it a try.

Book Zombie said...

Great review ... I too had somehow avoided reading this book - often if a book is extremely hyped I do. But now I think I will definately add Time Travellers Wife to my TBR pile.

Literary Feline said...

Great review! I still haven't managed to read this one, although a friend gave me her copy so that I could. One of these days . . . Maybe before the movie comes out. :-)

Karen Harrington said...

So glad you enjoyed this book. It is one of my favorites. I've found this is one people either love or hate. And I agree with TableTalk - it should be read twice.

Iliana said...

I loved this book even though I had a hard time at first. Just had to get used to the time-travel aspect. Glad you enjoyed reading it!

Chris said...

I'm so glad you liked it.

Ex Libris said...

Glad you enjoyed this. I had a little trouble with the structure of the book at first, but once I got past that, I really liked it.

wisteria said...

Hi,
I'm new to your site and I too feel like you. If it is very popular I will usually wait until all the hype is over with, because I don't want the chit chat to ruin my experience.
However, I also like to read books before they get popular. I love the validation that a book I thought was so great is making it. Do you know what I mean? Then again, if it doesn't and I loved the book...what does everyone else know..I liked it and that's all that counts. Have a great week.
To Freedom!!!

Stephanie said...

I read this book BEFORE I had a book blog, therefore no review, although I might just re-read it before the movie comes out!

tanabata said...

I agree with Table Talk. I'd really like to re-read this one at some point. Glad you enjoyed it so much! :)

Jeane said...

I like the way you introduced the book. It was one I enjoyed very much although, like you, I felt there were some small details left hanging that could have been better explained. I can't wait to see the film!

Seachanges said...

It's one of those books that I want to read again: I loved reading it first time round and now reading your review and the questions you ask I want to find out! I have no answer to them, at least I cannot remember...

Lisa said...

I'm another one of those that doesn't always want to read the book at the height of its popularity. I've had this book on my shelves for a very long time. I don't even remember when I got it. It sounds great, and I really must read it soon. Thanks for the review.

SmallWorld Reads said...

LOVED this book. I reviewed it here:
http://smallworldreads.blogspot.com/2007/01/book-review-time-travelers-wife.html

Bookfool said...

I loved this book! It's on the good shelves. :)

jaime said...

I don't want to sound like a broken record, but I also loved this! I reviewed it at http://www.bookconfessions.com/?p=213.

Teddy Rose said...

I loved this book as well. I found it so refreshingly different, a couple of years ago when I read it.

Great review!

Anonymous said...

hey, has anyone been one www.pollthepeople.com ???
amongst a very ecclectic list of the top books of all time, niffenegger ranks highly - good to see something other than Harry Potter!
i'm working for the site this summer and i just got niffenegger's top five books which will be on the site soon so check up in a day or two!

SmallWorld Reads said...

Thanks for the link!