This month’s book review marks my first foray into the romance genre. Apprehensive about reading a love story, I decided to make the experience less jarring by finding a novel that had a hint of science fiction to it. The book in question is “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger, and it had me pleasantly entertained (and maybe shed a few tears).
This book actually came into our possession after the kids brought it home from the library at our campground. Being a fan of the Doctor Who television series, I was attracted to this book by its title. The idea of time travel made the aspect of reading a five hundred page love story much more interesting to a sci-fi fanatic like myself. In the end, I’m glad I gave it a chance, as it turned out to be one of the best stories I ever read.
“The Time Traveler's Wife” is the debut novel of author Audrey Niffenegger. This book tells the love story of Clare Abshire, a strong-minded artist, and Henry DeTamble, a resourceful yet troubled librarian. Henry has a genetic disorder known as Chrono-Displacement Disorder, a condition which causes him to time travel unpredictably. The tale examines how an issue like Chrono-Impairment can affect a relationship, exploring themes such as miscommunication, distance, loss, free will and of course, love. Their attempt at a normal relationship, despite dealing with a condition they can’t control, makes for a truly unconventional and original love story.
Back of the Book:
This is the extraordinary love story of Clare and Henry who met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry thirty. Impossible but true, because Henry suffers from a rare condition where his genetic clock periodically resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future. In the face of this force they can neither prevent nor control, Henry and Clare's struggle to lead normal lives is both intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.
What I learned from this book:
- Timeline mastery: The story uses alternating first-person perspectives between Henry and Clare. With Henry bouncing back and forth in time, keeping track of historical events from each character's lives is important. I sometimes had a hard time figuring out why a specific character didn’t know certain information, only to realise they were too young at that point in the story. To help the reader keep track, Audrey states the age of each character at the beginning of each chapter (Example: Henry is 43,Clare is 36, etc). I’m sure the author had to make some sort of chart to map everything out on the timeline.
- Chrono-Displacement Disorder: Viewing time travel as a genetic disease was an original approach. Dealing with issues like memory loss, disorientation, medical treatments and inevitable death made it feel like a cross between amnesia, alzheimer's and cancer. It added an extra layer of depth to the story, as well as helping the audience get attached to the characters.
- Foreshadow is a bitch: Being able to move back and forth in time, Henry (and the audience) get to see certain events before they happen. The sad part is, despite knowing the future, Henry comes to the realization that he is powerless to change it. This helps add tension to the story, as readers see devastating events earlier in the story, knowing full well they will inevitably happen later on.
- Wish you were here!: This section is more of an experience than something I learned. The story takes place in some of the more notable locations Chicago, like the Field Museum or the Art Institute Museum. Having been there last summer, I had the unexpected pleasure of being able to envision the scenes as if I was there. This is the first time a book has had this effect on me, and it was a great experience.
Audrey Niffenegger is a professor in the Department of Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago. Published in 2003, “The Time Traveler's Wife” was her debut novel, which became a bestseller after an endorsement on The Today Show. The book was so popular that it became a movie in 2009 (but do yourselves a favor, read the book first).
For those interested in reading more books from Audrey Niffenegger, please check out her website and wiki description, where you can find a listing of her published works and all other pertinent information:
In closing, I would like to thank everyone for the encouragement and for following my blog. And thank you to my wife Linda for the support.
Until next time!