Review: The Time Traveler's Wife


Henry and Clare meet when she's 20 and he's 28, they get married when she's 22 and he's 30 but Clare has already known him most of her life for she's met him when she's 6 and he's 36. Time travels in this extremely distracting circu-linear fashion in Audrey Niffenegger's engaging novel. The storyline proceeds in little vignettes through different periods in Henry's life as he time travels and while this is difficult to get used to at first, the story emerges first beautiful, then haunting, of the disturbed librarian who struggles to to live normally with a genetic disorder that can uncontrollably take over his life in times of stress and anxiety and of the artist who grounds him and keeps him whole with her love for the time that they have together.

Here be spoilers:
I have never been partial to the themes of unrequited love, longing and separation in the fictional world. In fact, I hate to think of separation and someone waiting for another person their whole lives. Life is too short, and such indulgence in one's pain always drives me to distraction. So, the suggestion made by the author that Clare waits for Henry the rest of her life really, really irritated me. It seems wantonly mean to your title character. The first time around, I was able to delude myself into thinking that Clare does take Henry's suggestion and live her life until the time that she can see him again but a re-read of the relevant chapters convinced me otherwise.

I didnt like the characters of Charisse and Gomez at all either. Charisse is too accomodating while Gomez is endlessly selfish. They both seem to exist to bring to light deficiencies in Clare's character, mainly her willingness to cheat with her best friends boyfriend/husband. While the title of the story is the time traveller's wife, we see her life mainly as an extension of and through Henry's, and these little out-of-character elements bring the feeling that we never really know her in the first place.

Couch Quotient
Finally, this is a well written, intensely moving story of the couple's meeting, courtship, marriage and the ending itself moved me to tears and stayed with me a couple of days after I was done reading it. The middle of the book is a little slow, but stick with it because the end is well worth it! Natives of Chicago and denizens of the art world will probably appreciate the book more because it has a lot of cultural references which, while interesting, didnt really add to the story. The time traveling exists as a gimmick through the story and so I would classify this as a contemporary romance rather than sci-fi/ fantasy under which genre I actually found it in the library. But, to people who might be put off by this classification, do give this a chance. The author gets so many things right and it's an enjoyable ride!

A warning to audio book fans, this book contains some graphic language and scenes.


Avionic Spanker said...

Nice review. Am planning to read this one sometime soon.

couchpapaya said...

spanker - it's just ok, i wrote it in a hurry. i rewrote it for MS and that's a much better review - even if i say so myself :D

do read it, have been recco-ing to all and sundry unfortunately romance turns many ppl off !!

eye-in-sty-in said...

hmmm... ok. Books you say....

Anonymous said...

Sorry for posting an irrelevant comment (to the post). The swans are looking very nice, but clicking on them is taking me to their 'home' instead of rating your post.
How do you do that ? :p

couchpapaya said...

hmm missed these comments for some reason!

EISI - watch the movie!

uh - that is MY rating (5 swans = 5 points) not for you to rate :) those images are legacy when my nick was supposed to be a play on swans. i got stuck on papayas though and am too lazy to completely update the blog.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
I hated the book beyond words. Here are just a few reasons:
Would love to hear from you there :-)

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