Since tomorrow is my birthday, I figured it’s about time I talk about my favourite book of all time. Funny thing number one, despite me being obsessed with all things fantasy, my favourite book is very light on the fantastic. Funny thing number two, I have no idea how to properly review this book. The Time Traveler’s Wife is just one of those books that happen to connect on every single level. I’ve read it three times now already, and every single time I’ve been moved, I’ve cried, I’ve been mesmerised, I’ve been everything. So how do you review a book like that? I feel like the only proper way to do so, is by writing down a list of superlatives, but I’ll try to go a bit beyond that. But only just a bit.
Careful of some tiny spoilers.
Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, have known each other since Clare was 6 and Henry was 36, married when Clare 23 and Henry 31. Impossible but true. Because Henry unintentionally jumps in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity, past and future. His experiences can be harrowing or amusing.
Henry and Clare’s passionate love affair endures across a sea of time and captures the two lovers in an impossibly romantic trap, and it is Audrey Niffenegger’s cinematic storytelling that makes the novel’s unconventional chronology so vibrantly triumphant.
This book tells the story of Henry DeTamble, a librarian suffering from quite a peculiar affliction. He is a time traveller. Whenever he’s experiencing stress of particular strong emotions, he loses control of reality and finds himself in a different time and place. This affliction complicates his life, but still he tries to maintain one as normal as possible, a life with Clare. They met each other when Clare was still a child and Henry was in his forties. For years they had secret meetings, but now that they’re both in their twenties and meet for the first time when both are in their own time, their story can begin for real.
The premise of this book is pretty interesting; I thought so when I first picked up the book and I still think so. However, the blurb of the book can in no way prepare you for what’s to come. While this is a love story, it’s one that’s seriously messed up and can compete with Romeo and Juliet’s tale. The time travelling makes it quite hard to have a normal relationship and is the cause of quite some drama and tough moments. It made me choke more than once and one particular scene has me sobbing every single time.
“compete with Romeo and Juliet
It’s not all doom and gloom, however, cause although Henry’s affliction puts their relationship under some serious stress, it also makes way for beautiful moments. The trips to the past, to when Clare was just a child, are simply endearing and most of the scenes in the meadow are so beautiful you can’t but read them while smiling. The trip to the future as well is beautiful and simply heart breaking. Apart from those beautiful and painful moments, it also provides in the twisted and weird. Or how would you describe teenage Henry making out with himself, or Clare having sex with Henry from the past while present Henry is sleeping next to her? That’s pretty weird if you ask me, but it all works so well and adds to their complicated relation.
The thing that makes it all work so well, are the characters. Especially Henry and Clare are well-rounded and engaging characters. They have their flaws and that’s what makes them human and so likeable. The supporting characters as well add to the story, cause their normal lives contrast pretty well with the unconventional lives of Clare and Henry. It’s also beautiful to see the characters change throughout the story. Henry and Clare both suffer from what’s happening and it changes who they are, but at the same time love each other so much that they keep going and stay strong.
“you have to piece together Henry and Clare’s story chapter by chapter
As far as the writing is concerned, I can’t say anything remotely negative either. It’s not the most refined prose, but it just works so well. I also like the way the book is structured. There is no linearity of chronicity present, but rather you have to piece together Henry and Clare’s story chapter by chapter. Sometimes they take you to the past and sometimes their story continues here and now. This way of writing adds a little something to the story and makes for a beautiful contrast between the peace of the past and the turmoil of the present.
Looking back, I think I did a fairly good job in describing why I so adore this book. Perhaps not everyone will instantly fall in love with it, or even like it, but it’s one of those few books who get to me every single time I read it. I can only recommend it and ask you to give it a try. You might just be enchanted by this time-challenging love story.
And if you liked the book, make sure to give the movie a try. While not as enchanting as the novel itself, it is a very good adaptation that manages to capture the essence of the novel pretty good.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★