Wednesday, November 25, 2009

74. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

#74

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Title: The Time Traveler's Wife
Author: Audrey Niffenegger
Copyright: 2003
Pages: 519
ISBN: 978-0547119793
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Author Website: audreyniffenegger.com
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 5/5 stars
Finished: 11-24-09

From Amazon:
A dazzling novel in the most untraditional fashion, this is the remarkable story of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who travels involuntarily through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. 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.

An enchanting debut and a spellbinding tale of fate and belief in the bonds of love,
The Time Traveler's Wife is destined to captivate readers for years to come.

Several friends have been trying to get me to read The Time Traveler's Wife for awhile now, and for this reason or that, I kept putting it off. They kept telling me that in addition to it being a fantastic story, I'd love it as it takes place in Chicago and that I'd recognize so many of the places talked about in the story (and for those that don't know me that well, I have a love affair with the city of Chicago and will be moving there, someday!). Well, they were all right on all counts, and I'm just sorry that it took me so long to getting around to reading this wonderful book.

The Time Traveler's Wife is the story of Henry and Clare. Henry is a time traveler; he has a genetic disease that causes him, at random intervals, to fall out of his present and arrive in different locations and times, and never of his choice. Henry seems drawn to Clare continually during his time jumps, from the time that she is a child, continuing through until he meets her in his own present. This is one of the amazing aspects of the book to me, how Niffenegger was able to tell this story: Clare's story moves forward in a clear chronological pace, yet Henry falls in and out of her life at various ages, so that while one meeting with Clare will find Henry in his 40s, the next may find him in his 30s, and he must become continuously aware of his place with Clare, as what is happening in her present may still constitute his future or past self.

Niffenegger tells their story honestly. It isn't always good between Henry and Clare, and we are carried along on the ups and downs of their relationship. It can be a roller coaster of a ride sometimes, but ultimately, isn't that what all relationships are about? The ups and downs, good times and bad? However, when the times are good, Niffenegger buoys us along with their happiness, and you just know it's going to be OK.

I started out listening to an audiobook version of the story, but by the time that I was getting to the end, I couldn't wait until the drive into work the next day to continue the story so pulled out my copy of the book and found where I left off and continued reading. The ending, even though you have a vague foreshadowing of what's to come, is still amazingly powerful.

Some parts of the book seemed a little too long for my liking: scenes where entire games of pool are described, for instance, seemed a little more detail than was completely necessary to keep the story moving. These handful of scenes aside, the book moves along at a comfortable speed. You might think that the jumping back and forth between times might be a little confusing, and it does seem daunting at first, but once you get into the groove of the story, everything moves along nicely and the time jumps aren't even noticeable.

Another word on the audiobook production: it is narrated by William Hope and Laurel Lefkow and since the book is written from both Henry and Clare's points of view, this makes for a nice listening experience, as both characters literally have a voice of their own.

When all is said and done, The Time Traveler's Wife is an amazing book and comes highly recommended.

1 comment:

Jen - devourer of books said...

I think I need to reread this!