Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife

Oh. My. God.

That was my first thought when I finally closed this book.  This is one of the best works of recent adult fiction I have read.  And while I may have slight objections or questions to parts, it is, as a whole, one of the best books of the decade (I say that having not read even close to most of the books written this decade - forgive me).

Audrey Niffenegger tells the love story between a man and a woman, Henry and Clare.  This would be nothing new or exciting if it didn't have one key element: Henry is a time traveler. He will disappear at random and end up in a completely different place in a completely different time.  This is how he meets Clare, when she is six years old and he is 36.  Throughout Clare's childhood Henry is somewhat of a mythical creature.  Always appearing, but never giving her details as to when he comes from or their future together.  When she meets him in the present, he is only eight years older than her, and they begin their all-consuming love affair, accompanied by moments of anguish when they are separated by Henry's time traveling (which Niffenegger explains as a genetic disorder). Throughout, Henry is searching for a way to stop time traveling, to be kept firmly in the present with the ones he loves.  But is that possible?

Niffenegger created a believable world with very human characters.  I felt for Clare when she had no idea where Henry had gone or when he would be back.  I felt for Henry when he was transported to unknown times and places, often finding himself in danger.  And I felt for them both when they weren't sure if they would be able to have a baby due to Henry's genes.  There is depth to the characters and, because of that, the originality of the story, and the flow of the writing, I am counting this among one of my favorite books.

5 out of 5 stars.  This is a story I could read again and again, and it has made me appreciate what I have.  Contemporary fiction rarely brings out such true, raw emotion, and I applaud Audrey Niffenegger and look forward to reading her second novel, Her Fearful Symmetry.

9 comments:

  1. My sentiments exactly. And I liked the movie.

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  2. That's it, I'm reading this next.

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  3. All right . . . now I HAVE to read it and soon! I'll let you know how I like it.

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  4. Wow, great review! I've been wondering about this one for a while, but I think I'll definitely have to add it to the TBR list now!

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  5. I have this book but I haven't read it yet. I'm going to have to get one that!

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  6. This is next on my list of reads! Thank you for such positive review!

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  7. So ... honestly, now ... if this gets five stars, what does the Twilight series get? No waffling about "it's a different genre" or "it's for a different audience" - as a work of literature, how does Twilight compare with The Time Traveler's Wife?

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  8. Ok, if I'm being completely honest and taking as much of my bias out of it as I can: Twilight is a 2.5-3 in terms of literary stamina. It's a flash-in-the-pan work; the writing is inferior and the storyline isn't the most original, therefore I doubt it's going to be known for much other than creating mass hysteria. However, it's a captivating story and Stephenie Meyer did a good job of developing the characters and the setting, and keeping both realistic (as realistic as teenage vampires can be, anyway). It would've had a lot more promise as a work of literature if Meyer was a better writer, but it's done so well because she's a good storyteller.

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  9. Wonderful review! I'm so glad I'm finally reading this. :]

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