The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Contemporary Fiction, 536 pages
Published by Harcourt Inc.
The author succeeds in creating a story, and a set of characters that can evoke strong emotional responses.
I don’t think I have ever been so moved. Why? I honestly don’t know. I do admit, however, that I’m someone who cannot prevent a well written narrative and its characters from connecting with some emotion hidden deep inside, which once touched, bursts forth and proceeds to turn me to Jell-O on the spot.
This is a good story. From the very beginning, I was intrigued by how the author uses a prologue to introduce her main characters and their story.
The remainder of the book reveals how their love holds them together, throughout their lives and throughout time. No relationship is perfect, and this book never attempts to state otherwise. The passage where Henry spends Christmas with Clare and her family for the first time, is an excellent example how true to normal this book attempts to be, even though one of its main characters is a time traveler.
“Long ago, men went to sea, and women waited for them…Now I wait for Henry. He vanishes unwillingly, without warning. I wait for him. Each moment that I wait feels like a year, an eternity. Each moment is as slow and transparent as glass.”
I also found that this book really is about longing as much as it is about love, and how it seems that you cannot have one without the other. It is also about time, well at least one’s perception of time. The author, in an interview with Mark Flanagan, was asked, “Was there a central theme that you wanted readers to grasp?” She answers, “I wanted people to think about the intimacy of time, how ineffable it is, how it shapes us. I wanted to write about waiting, but since waiting is essentially a negative (time spent in the absence of something) I wrote about all the things that happen around the waiting.”
As the story progresses, the reader is pulled and pushed along, just like Clare and Henry, who long for normalcy and control, and never completely achieve either. In the beginning, it is a little disconcerting, but necessary as it helps the reader connect in such a way that by the end of the novel, one cannot help but feel as if we too, are facing the inevitable, and are powerless against it.
The Time Traveler’s Wife offers us another view; a different concept, of time and how it affects our lives. Yet when all is said and done – it all comes down to the same thing, for us and for Clare and Henry. Time is endless, but we are not.
I will not say more than that in fear of giving too much away. Also, I would like to state that the ending isn’t as sad as I probably have led you to believe, however, I highly recommend having a plentiful supply of tissue at hand, just in case.