The Time Traveler’s Wife

March 23, 2009

As I may have mentioned ( 😉 ) I recently read The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and I promised to talk more about it.

The thing that has been putting me off doing this is just how do you do this book justice. If I say that it is a story about a man named Henry who travels in time it sound really sci-fi, but it is far from it. It is a love story. A beautifully written, many faceted, unravelling story that is both heart warming and heart breaking.

Rather than being the traditionally conceived time traveller Henry suffers from a genetic disorder that, when stressed, causes him to loose his grip on time and space, and he finds himself transported to some other when and where. His time travel has certain obvious advantages, but they are significantly outweighed by the disadvantages but there are disadvantages too. I left the crossed out text as it was what came to mind, but the book also talks of the complex relationship between cause and effect. Concepts like destiny and free will. Without his ability to time travel Henry would not have met his wife future wife Clare, or at least their story would have been very different.

One of the most striking things about this book is how beautifully it has been written. Unlike The Kite Runner which, whilst managing to be a good book, was pretty much an unhappy book throughout, The Time Traveller’s Wife has both highs and lows, which due to the nature of Henry’s condition were sometimes closely intermingled. This contrast between light and shade allows us to feel we understand Henry and allow us to empathise with him despite his very peculiar problem. The story is told from the point of view of two narrators, Henry the time traveller and Clare his wife. This has the wonderful effect of causing events to slowly unfold whilst reading, allowing each event to be told more than once from multiple points of view in increasing detail, with many events being foreshadowed by some Henry from the future, giving us yet another account of the situation. What starts out as a strange tangle of events all go on to mesh together into one carefully woven story.

This book is easily the my favourite read in quite some time, and as much as I am once again very late to the party, if in the strange Venn-diagram of the five-six readers of this blog and the five or six people that can read yet have not read this book, there happens to be any overlap, I strongly recommend adding this book to their list of future reads 🙂