The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Audrey Niffenegger’s dazzling debut is the story of Clare, a beautiful, strong-minded art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: his genetic clock randomly resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous and unpredictable, and lend a spectacular urgency to Clare and Henry’s unconventional love story. (Goodreads)
The Time Traveler’s Wife has a very interesting premise. It has romance AND time-travel.
The book follows a nonlinear method of storytelling as Henry is tossed back and forth to several timelines. We see different versions of Clare and himself on different times, from their six-year old selves to adults and we learn how their stories unfold. What could have been a boring, contemporary romance was made fresh because of time-travel and the shifting POVs made good work to foreshadowing events and giving us a more complex insight on Henry and Clare’s relationship and their experiences on certain timelines.
My problem with The Time Traveler’s Wife is that it doesn’t quite reach its potential as a romance novel. There is no character development, a necessity in any romance novel I read. The characters don’t get to explore their relationship or the struggles they face introspectively and you get the sense you’re reading a biography than a novel. They never argue and they never seem to have problems about each other’s attitudes. Instead, we are thrown into melodramatic conflicts that do not get resolved and unnecessary strings of details that stretch and stretch. The novel fails to be emotionally gripping and the characters come off as dull and uninteresting. On the other hand, the sci-fi elements were spot on and offer fascinating ideas about free will, destiny and causality which the novel translated well throughout the book, giving the story a philosophical perspective that meshes well with the novel’s tone and themes.
The Verdict: 3/5 Stars
There’s a sequel, apparently??
About the Author
Niffenegger’s debut novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003), was a national bestseller. Her Fearful Symmetry (2009), Niffenegger’s second novel, is set in London’s Highgate Cemetery where, during research for the book, Niffenegger acted as a tour guide.
Niffenegger has also published graphic and illustrated novels including: The Adventuress (2006), The Three Incestuous Sisters (2005), The Night Bookmobile (2009), and Raven Girl (2013). Raven Girl was adapted into a ballet by Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor and the Royal Opera House Ballet (London) in 2013. Goodreads | Website