Book Review: The Time Traveler’s Wife

Niffenegger, Audrey. The Time Traveler’s Wife. New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2003.

Henry DeTamble is not an ordinary man. He has what a geneticist later describes as a kind of defect that makes it so that he inadvertently time travels. It leaves him in all sorts of predicaments, having to find clothes after each episode (which he describes almost as epileptic in nature) as he never can take a stitch of clothing or anything with him when it happens. A young girl named Clare encounters an older Henry when she is 6, and he convinces her he is a time traveler who stumbles by chance upon her. Over the years, she comes to know and love this older Henry… whose older self knows that eventually she will be his wife. He leaves her dates that he will appear because, although Clare lives her life chronologically, Henry is not bound by time. The book is pretty much the story of both of their lives, of the chaos of being an uncontrolled time traveler, and yet the classic story of how love overcomes all things. 

It was beautiful. For all its constant time and perspective changes, it reads very well. It’s somewhat like science fiction, but not quite. The characters are deep, and fully dimensional, the details incredibly real unlike some of the shallowly drawn fiction we commonly accept. It is pain and beauty- the bittersweet of reality married to fiction. My only criticism is that it contains a lot of graphic detail when it comes to numerous sex scenes. It’s not that they aren’t well written or don’t add to the depth of the love between the two main characters, but it’s just something I’d rather not read. This book is deep and well-educated, rich with allusions, details, and a well-constructed plot. I liked it overall. It leaves me a bit sad and wistful for my own love… but only the best really do that. 

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