Monday, 2 November 2009
The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
Synopsis: Clare and Henry met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry thirty. Henry suffers from a rare condition where his genetic clock periodically resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future.
I had mixed feelings about this book, I'd heard all the hype about both the book and the recently released movie. At times I found certain parts difficult to follow, when in some chapters there are two Henry's - one present day, one from the future or past it is at times difficult to dissern which Henry is speaking or which one Clare is talking to.
Throughout the book, Henry is a tortured soul while for most of the book Clare is skipping happily along in life with versions of Henry and when we get to the point where Clare is sick of all the time travel and being alone while her husband keeps disappearing against his will I found it difficult to feel sympathy towards her as she had sought out the present day Henry, the Henry who at that time didn't know her yet, she could have walked away and never chosen to be with him. I felt perhaps she'd chosen her own fate and swayed more towards feeling sympathy for Henry, who had tried to steer her away from seeking him out. In one particular chapter where Henry is both twenty-eight and thirty three and Clare is twenty, Clare realises that while she met a version of Henry when she was six and has her whole life to fall in love with him, the twenty eight year old version of Henry has only just met her...."I didn't know you existed. I was unhappily dating Ingrid. I met you. I broke up with Ingrid. I mean infidelity isn't retroactive, you know?...very few people meet their soulmates at age six...." "...I see that he (Henry) doesn't recognize anything...the knife of realization sinks in deeper: all the little tokens and souvenirs in this museum of our past are as love letters to an illiterate."
I'm not usually a fan of time travel stories particularly those involving romances, purely because scenes involving an adult interacting with the child version of their love tend to come off as me as being slightly creepy but Audrey Niffenegger manages to pull it off in a way which is sweet and tender almost as if during Clare's early years Henry is an imaginary friend. Henry is portrayed as maintaining a certain amount of distance until Clare comes of age while at the same time having a sweet relationship with the child version of Clare. Once we are taken to the point in time when Clare and Henry finally meet up in the same time period, Henry is this struggling, damaged man searching for something he doesn't quite recognise until Clare comes along and the pieces suddenly seem to come together and fit perfectly.
For me, this was a difficult book to delve into because of me preconcieved notions about science fiction but once I got into it I found it to be charming, sweet, endearing and at it's very core a story about a couple very much in love and the time travel was just something that couldn't be helped. I would definately recommend this book to anyone and am looking forward to delving into Niffenegger's new book.