Saturday, June 5, 2010

Audrey Niffenegger - The Time Traveller's Wife

Grade: A+

This book really stood out for me. Much credit is due to my brainy PhD-student friend who nudged me into reading The Time Traveler's Wife.
This is a debut novel! Who woulda thought? It was well written, and really well-edited. The entirely first-person novel is a gripping and beautiful love story.
The narrative switches back and forth between the beautifully fleshed-out main characters: Henry and Clare. Clare is a normal woman, but Henry was born with a genetic disorder that leads to involuntary time travel in times of stress. (Unlike those of us who just wish we could run away when stresssed)
They first meet when Henry is about 30 and Clare is only 6. He then proceeds to visit her several times throughout her childhood, and is her friend, tutor and eventual lover. When Clare turns 20, she runs into a 28-year old Henry, who has never yet met her as this is still in his future. They end up marrying each other and then struggle to have a child. The couple then suffer through several miscarriages as a result of the foetus' inheritance of his genetic anomaly.
I cannot say this enough -  what a great editor the book has! The first-paced narrative, the switch between the characters, relocations across time - this could have been a mess. Instead, it stays so cohesive; a monumental task.

While the story might not be the most original love story, the way it is written and the characters really make this an unusual book. The poetry before each chapter was apt and set the tone for the scene ahead. I ended up sniffling and tearing up at the last quarter or so of the book; Henry and Clare's troubles seem so real and they cope so bravely together.
Read The Time Traveller's Wife for yourself and see!

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  1. When I first bought this book, I bought is cheap/used because I didn't think I was going to like it; I'm not a huge fan of scifi/fantasy...but I ended up loving it. I lent it to a coworker, but never got it back. Since I loved it so much though, when my friend asked me what I wanted for my birthday I asked for a brand new copy of this book so I could have it for my personal library again, and reread it.

  2. Wow, thats nice that you have it in your library again :)

  3. Well written review Dee! I loved the novel idea of looking at time travel as a genetic disorder too. If it were something uncontrollable, would one still want it? I thought that was a nice angle. But places like when H's legs get amputated, I thought she could've done a leetle better. I can't give an alternative cause of ending but somehow for me it felt like a copout by the author. I do believe she could have come up with something deeper. I also like the irresponsible H vs patient waiting C character contrast, but would have liked a bit more depth in the character. All said, I still like the book and definitely has a place in my bookshelf :)

  4. I liked the book very much. It was a good experience reading it though I read her second book- Her Fearful Symmetry first. You must read that one too. Its quite different. But well written.

  5. Oh @Sunanda - I had totally blacked-out the feet getting amputated. That was totally not required to the book's ending , I agree with you.

    @Sukanya - I haven't read anything else by her yet, I agree. Though not sure if I'm ready to :) I would def look into this book eventually, perhaps in a couple of months, since you suggest it!

  6. I liked this book, especially the end! Had to cry so much then!Very sad they changed the movie end:/


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