Friday, November 16, 2007

The Time Traveler's Wife

This is not the type of book I usually get. But I was at the library by myself so I took a few minutes and read it for a while and got hooked. I don't usually read relationship driven novels because they are usually an exploration of how two people can send each other over the edge. Or if not dwelling on unpleasant people who make terrible choices, they are overly sentimental and saccharine. You know, killing people off unexpectedly so as to make you cry and feel like you've had an emotional experience.
Anyway, this book talks about a man who is an involuntary time traveler. It is sort of like an epileptic seizure, caused by stress usually. He disappears from where he is and reappears some when else; naked and penniless because nothing travels with him.
He meets a girl when he is 28 and she is 20, they fall in love, and marry. The complication is that after this point, when she becomes important to him, he begins time traveling back to her childhood. So he meets her when he is 28 and she is 20, she meets him when she is 6 and he is 36. This could have been done in so many wrong ways but it is handled beautifully, for the most part. He helps her with her homework, teaches her chess, refuses to say anything about the future and tries to be patient.
She does not want to be patient and so some of the tension of the novel begins. It follows a more or less chronological line, as Henry bounces in and out like a superball. How the relationship develops, as Claire grows, as Henry deals with his own issues, and as the complications of turning up naked and alone in various places build up the story just pulls you in.
I think this may have been made into a movie, but I'm not sure. It was probably rated R because a naked man is one of the prominent features of the story.
And how you deal with death is handled with care. The loss of parents, friends, and the foreknowledge of our time traveler is not ever sappy but agonizing and moving.
I must say, as I got closer to the end, and the point where Henry's death, which he knows about, (obviously,) I couldn't put it down. I stayed up way too late and then I cried for the last 50 pages.
There was an irritating incident with an ex-boyfriend of the wife after her husband dies that I don't think was necessary. And more sex and language than I would like to have seen. Honestly it was right on the edge of what will make me put a book back I'm glad I can skim quickly and skip that stuff. Of course, not having it in there at all would have been better.

The Time Traveler's Wife. Audrey Niffenegger. MacAdam/Cage. 2003.

1 comment:

jenny said...

Kathy, I totally agree with you on this book. It was amazing how the author skipped through time but it didn't get confusing. The unneccesary sexual scenes kept me from heartily recommmending it to others.