Time travel is something that has caught our fancy at one point or other. I mean who wouldn’t want this for a superpower? I know I would. When I read the book blurb for the Time Traveler’s Wife, I was a bit sceptical over the rave reviews. But as I read the books, I realised all my fears were groundless for it’s a superbly written book.
Title: Time Traveler’s Wife
Author: Audrey Niffenegger
Genre: Fiction / Romance / Science Fiction
Audrey Niffenegger is an American writer who initially had trouble in getting her first book – The Time Traveler’s Wife – published. This novel later went on to sell about 2.5 million copies and has won the Exclusive Books Boeke Prize and the British Book Award. Later the film rights were sold too and a film based on it was released in 2009. Audrey is an artist and develops editions of hand painted books.
Henry De Tamble is a librarian at the Newberry Library in Chicago and his wife Clare is a paper sculpture artist. Henry has a rare genetic disorder which allows him to travel back and forth in time. His time travels started at age 5. The time travel is often triggered by stress and Henry has no control over when and where he will land up. He cannot carry anything with him during these travels. So he arrives naked and penniless every time; he works on acquiring street smart skills like lock picking, self-defence and pick pocketing. He takes to jogging and other physical pursuits to lock down his triggers for time travel.
“I’ve noticed that Henry needs an incredible amount of physical activity all the time in order to be happy. It’s like hanging out with a greyhound.” ― Audrey Niffenegger,
28 Year old Henry first meets 20-year-old Clare at the library. Henry has never met her but she knows him since she was six years old. This is because once they meet as adults and fall in love, Henry takes to traveling back in time to her childhood and adolescence where he introduces himself and his condition to her. One time he even tells her that they will eventually get married.
“I never understood why Clark Kent was so hell-bent on keeping Lois Lane in the dark.” ― Audrey Niffenegger,
Soon they settle into matrimony and start trying for a child. But six miscarriages later, they realise that Henry’s time travel gene is being passed on, causing the foetus to travel and ending in subsequent natural abortion. Clare is devastated while Henry blames himself. He quietly gets a vasectomy done to avoid any future mishaps; Clare is furious at him for doing this without talking to her first. But she is visited by an earlier Henry who makes love to her and she gets pregnant.
Clare gives birth to a baby girl – Alba – who too has the time travel gene. But unlike Henry, she can control it to some degree. Henry takes to meeting his daughter in the future to prepare her for time travel and during one of this visits, he learns that he will die when she is five, though not how he will die.
“It’s hard being left behind. I wait for Henry, not knowing where he is, wondering if he’s okay. It’s hard to be the one who stays behind.” ― Audrey Niffenegger,
Henry eventually dies at age 43 leaving Clare bereft. She finds a letter from Henry in which he has begged her to stop waiting for him, but that she will see him sometime in her future for one more time.
Lasting impression on me:
So where do I begin? Lets see, firstly it’s a romantic tale. A very unusual one at that, but romance certainly features high in this novel. Imagine meeting “that” guy when you are a child and he leads you to him through his time traveling into his past. The author handled the fear of the 6-year-old at being accosted by a “grown up”, with whom she becomes fascinated enough to not tell her parents about him, really well. It actually sounds creepy but I found it romantic and sweet.
Then there is the sci-fi element to this book via time travel. How cool it is to be able to go back and forth in time and ensure your life follows a pattern you want. You invest money wisely as you can see the future 😉 and thereby gaining a tidy nest egg, plus you make sure that the woman who is destined to be your wife, finds you easily. Now I do want this super power for myself, but more about that in a later post.
The medical research that Henry does to try to stop his traveling as he hates to leave Clare anxious and waiting for his return, is impressive. I loved the relationship angle in this book for it can be nerve wrecking to be married to someone who has no control over his coming and going. Clare has to live with the fear of him never coming back due to him dying or getting hurt. It takes a very strong kind of love to live through that.
“Don’t you think it’s better to be extremely happy for a short while, even if you lose it, than to be just okay for your whole life?” ― Audrey Niffenegger,
They try to lead a normal life with normal careers, yet are thrown into an emotional maelstrom every time Henry disappears. The author has been very clever in her exploration of this relationship by displaying all the doubts and fears openly and tackling them one at a time. This is a very human tale of love with no over realism to spoil the narration.
Then there is the child who also is a time traveler and is the beacon of their love as after Henry is gone, Clare gets to hear about him from her daughter who meets him on her time travels. This way he seems very much alive to Clare, just not visible and present.
So there you have it love in the times of Time travel makes for the perfect romance in my opinion.
I have given it a 5 ***** as the relationship part of this book has been handled divinely. Throw in the time travel allure and Voila, its a bumper draw for a book lover like me.
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Are you a sci-fi fan? Or more of romance fiction for you? What did you think of this book?
I am on a no-book-buying pact as I am pretty much broke; not to mention that I am running out of space as well!! But incase anyone wants to trade their books or send me gifts, please do check out my Wishlist on Amazon & Want to read on Goodreads.
Coming up tomorrow is [U] for an Unusual or is it Unorthodox (?) love story
For the uninitiated, AtoZ challenge is a blogging challenge wherein one has to write on every alphabet from A to Z and post on all days of April, except Sundays. Usually its better to devise a theme as it makes it easy to write the posts. Plus readers have a reason to stay hooked too.
The A to Z Challenge is created by Arlee Bird of Tossing it Out
and co-hosted by
Alex J. Cavanaugh of Alex J. Cavanaugh
Jeremy Hawkins of Hollywood Nuts
John Holton of The Sound of One Hand Typing
J Lenni Dorner of Blog of J. Lenni Dorner
Some of my previous posts you might be interested in catching up on