The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – A Book Review

A few weeks ago I was looking around for some new books to read and ran across The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.  I’ll admit, the title kind of turned me off.  I liked the time travel part, but the wife part made me think that it might be a bit too sappy for my taste.  So, I read some reviews of the book, I read the back cover, and I finally gave in.  What the heck, I love The Time Machine by H.G. Wells and I love Back to the Future; in other words, I love time travel stories.  How bad could this one be?

The answer to that question is-the book is not bad at all.  In fact, I honestly would call it one of the most unpretentious and terribly complicated plots that I have ever read.  Our male lead character, Henry DeTamble, suffers from an extremely rare disease that causes him to bounce around in time whenever stressed.  Nothing can travel with him other than those things that are naturally a part of his body.  You do the math.  Henry has been doing this ever since he was a child, and as an adult he is quite adept at picking locks, hand-to-hand combat, and theft.  He must be good at these things if he wants to survive.  I’d like you to imagine yourself appearing in the middle of a city completely naked on a January night at three in the morning.  Get the idea?  Oh, and Henry’s occupation when he’s not traveling through time-a librarian.

Very quickly into the book we witness the first time that Clare meets Henry.  She is but a young child and he is well into his third decade.  In fact, it is the first time that Clare meets Henry because Henry has been married to an adult Clare for some time now.  Yes, that’s right.  He visits his wife when she is only six years old and then continues to do so until she is eighteen!  It boggles the mind, does it not?  Many philosophical questions spring to mind and I’ll leave it to you to decipher them on you own.

Henry first meets Clare, in turn, when he is twenty-eight and she is twenty.  By that time, Clare had known him for most of her life, but it was the very first time that he had ever seen her.  Well, he nearly instantly falls for her and eventually they get married.  Of course, like most married couples, they begin to attempt conceiving a child.  Imagine a child that inherits a time traveling gene that may activate whenever stressed.  Yes, a whole new premise in the story that bewilders.

Well, of course, I won’t tell you how it ends, and although it seems I’ve told you quite a bit already, I promise that I’ve spoiled nothing.  The book is roughly five hundred pages and it is written in an effective manner in which the perspective regularly shifts from Clare to Henry.  The setting also shifts quite often and Niffenegger is always careful to tell us the date and year of each new shift.  We move all the way from the late sixties to 2053 rather haphazardly.  It gives you quite a mental workout.

I highly recommend this book to both men and women.  Niffenegger has accomplished an enchanting and multifaceted novel with such success that it makes the rest of us writers feel quite inadequate.  Just like real life, Henry and Clare enjoy laughs, tears, births, deaths, pain, joy, terror, and euphoria.  With only one hundred and fifty pages left in the novel, you will not be able to put this book down.  Trust me, I was up until two-thirty in the morning finishing it.

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6 thoughts on “The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – A Book Review

  1. Cheryl says:

    Hi Scott, I am amazed at how productive you are! Anyway, I enjoyed your reviews and will certainly look up for soem of the books you discussed.

  2. Hi Cheryl, I’m guessing you’re talking about all the book reviews of late. I’ve been moving my old book reviews from the archived page to the regular categories to clear up space and so that the individual reviews show up in search engines. These are years worth of reviews. Just wanted to clear that up so you don’t think I’ve read fifty books in the last two weeks!

    Hope you drop by again soon:)

  3. andileigh says:

    Great reviews. I’m a bookworm myself. If you’ve got a moment, please check out http://www.andileigh.wordpress.com. I will continue to return to your blog.

  4. Neh says:

    Hi I just read this book in two days, and it’s my favorite, and I think I’ve read a lot in my life. I was wondering if anyone knows any other book related, it’s so hard to find a great book lately and Audrey got me on the first page.

  5. Hi Neh,

    My favorite authors at the moment are: Michael Chabon, Cormac McCarthy, Paul Auster, Annie Proulx, and Tobias Wolff. None of those really have a “sci-fi” element like The Time Traveler’s Wife, though. You might enjoy Max Brooks’ World War Z or Christopher Priest’s The Prestige. They have a “real world” feel to their fantastic premises.

  6. Hannah says:

    Hi!

    I work for Regal Literary, the literary agency that represents Audrey Niffenegger. We noticed your interest in Audrey Niffenegger and THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE and want you to know we’re giving away Advance Reader’s Copies of HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY now to bloggers who have written about Audrey’s work. To get yours, click below or you can contact me directly at hfs@regal-literary.com with your mailing address.

    http://tinyurl.com/facebookhfs

    Look forward to hearing from you,
    Hannah

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