Friday Favorites: The Time Traveler's Wife

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Time Traveler’s Wife

by Audrey Niffenegger

Meet Claire Abshire and Henry De Tamble, just a perfectly normal couple, except for the fact that Henry has Chrono-Displacement Disorder, which means he is a time traveler.

At its heart The Time Traveler’s Wife is a love story, but one that’s more complicated than your average boy meets girl. The thing I love the most about this book is that it has an obvious gimmick - time travel, we know that from the title alone. It would have been so easy for Niffenegger to rely on that to tell the whole story. Instead she creates two beloved characters who feel so real that you root for them from the start. Henry and Claire feel like friends, people you could meet anywhere, and because of that the reader can suspend disbelief and embrace the time travel plot.

There’s no sugar-sweetness in this story. It has harsh moments where the reader finds Henry stranded somewhere in time or Claire is left alone for days, not knowing where he is. Just because he isn’t leaving intentionally doesn’t make it any easier for her when he’s gone. It also doesn’t mean that Claire or Henry are perfect people. They are selfish and flawed just like anyone else.

The thing that surprised me the most was that there is not a single sci-fi element in the book except time travel. Niffenegger treats Henry’s condition just like it’s any other disease, which removes any absurdity from the story. It’s a hurdle that complicates their lives, but it’s a reasonable one within the confines of the book.

In the end I fell in love with the story and the characters. It was one of those books I just couldn’t put down. I re-read it recently and loved it just as much the second time around. It felt like revisiting old friends in the way that only the best books can.

Side Note: I have read Her Fearful Symmetry, Niffenegger’s most recent novel, and I wasn’t too impressed. I also saw the movie version of Time Traveler and I enjoyed it, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the book.


Kathy said...

I loved this book too. I've kind of been afraid to re-read it, but it sounds like it held up for you. ;) I totally agree about Symmetry, and the movie version! In fact when I first read TTTW I was pretty resistant to watching the movie (which is unusual for me) but I finally gave in to curiosity, and it wasn't as horrible as I'd expected. :)

Kristi said...

I think I am one of the few people that didn't care for this book. Clare's flaws really irritated me and it made it difficult for me to emotionally invest in the story. I'm glad that you enjoyed it on your second read. I'm guessing I should avoid Her Fearful Symmetry seeing as I didn't really like this one.

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

Yep, I haven't read this book yet -- I think I might be the only one out there!!

LindyLouMac said...

I loved this one and feel somewhat let down with Her Fearful Symmetry, review to be published soon!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Kristi - You're definitely not the only one. My best friend hated this book.

Teacher/Learner said...

I loved reading this one! It was so unique & made me reinvest in reading more current lit. I'm about halfway through Her Fearful Symmetry & like it but am not as blown away as I was with TTW. Thanks for the nostalgic review :)

Jenners said...

I'm with you 100% on this. I loved this book ... and you're right ... she just treated it like a regular disease. No one else even got all that interested in his condition. I suspected the movie wasn't that great so I skipped it.

Captain Nick Sparrow said...

Another fan here! The only thing I didn't like is the way it ended...(I am trying not to be a spoiler here for those who haven't read it)you know, how all love stories seem to end!
I liked the movie too, but not as much. Of course.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Teacher/Learner - I love that you said "made me reinvest in reading more current lit." Isn't it wonderful when a single book is so good that it encourages us to pursue a whole new genre.

Captain - The ending is rough, no question.