I'm not going to give a synopsis or anything, but I will say that this is one of the best series I have EVER read. And I read a lot. Tons. So to say t...moreI'm not going to give a synopsis or anything, but I will say that this is one of the best series I have EVER read. And I read a lot. Tons. So to say that really means something. Don't let the romance label put you off, this series is difficult to define. The historical content is accurate and amazing, the characters are amazingly real and complicated, the storylines interesting and unexpected - really, I just can't say enough great things about this series. I have re-read the whole series at least 3 times and love it even more every time I read it. Certain scenes in the book are so vivid and real in my memory, it is almost like I saw it in a movie. In some ways it reminds me of "A Tale of Two Cities" another book that I love, in the large themes, historical setting, etc etc - but it is also a very deep love story. While there is a time travel aspect to the story, it is NOT in any way Sci-fi or supernatural or anything like that. I have never met anyone who read the series who didn't completely fall in love with it. My mom and I discuss in detail every nuance, plot line, etc. It is the only book series I own in hardcover - and it is worth every penny.(less)
**spoiler alert** I have a serious love/hate relationship with this book. The good stuff: I really liked the jumps back and forth in time - surprisingl...more**spoiler alert** I have a serious love/hate relationship with this book. The good stuff: I really liked the jumps back and forth in time - surprisingly, the author was able to keep it all straight and I never really felt so terribly confused that I just wanted to give up.
I loved the Henry character. I really loved him. He was flawed, he tried so hard to be a good man, etc etc. I just really loved this character.
I liked the love story - I felt that the feelings between the two of them were real and so deep. So often a love story goes for huge dramatics to prove the deep love between two people and I liked that she didn't do that - you see their love for each other in what they do, how they talk, how they touch.
I liked how the author kept the time traveling dark - the idea that he has no money and no clothes and has to scramble to stay alive and not arrested, etc etc. was great - very realistic for an unreal premise.
I actually liked that they threw in the genetic testing and whatever of the time traveling disorder. I know many people felt that it was ridiculous, or felt like it was just shoved in there, but I really thought it brought a realism to the story. It helped take the story out of the sci-fi realm and put it more in reality. All of a sudden it became about a person with a disease and a family fighting to hold it together rather than a mysterious hole in the universe. I don't normally like pseudo science, but I actually thought it worked here.
The bad stuff:
I hated the name dropping, etc. I know some people liked it, but I just hated it. Yeah, I get it - he liked punk music. Wow. It just felt so contrived and fake to me. It felt more like the AUTHOR likes punk music and art and architecture and whatever else and was putting in those names as a shout out to her "peeps". Like, hey guys, if you know who this is you are part of a super secret cool club - yeah!! Not so much.
I thought the Claire character was criminally flat. I agree with another reviewer that said the book was called "The Time Traveler's WIFE" and yet she is mostly a non-character. Now, I don't have a problem with the idea that she ended up devoting her life to Henry. That her commitment to him overshadowed other choices she could have made in life - well, I thought that was pretty realistic and understandable. If her husband got in a car crash and was a vegetable for the rest of his life, and to take care of him she ended up having to forgo many choices and let her life be dictated by this man and his medical needs, we wouldn't be arguing as much about it. But that doesn't mean she doesn't have her own dreams, thoughts, needs, desires, etc. which the author could have spent more time dealing with and developing. I really felt that Claire was mainly there as an object for Henry to love - not her own person. You never feel that Claire loved Henry and made this choice, this sacrifice - you feel that it was inevitable because the author said so.
Claire's family was ridiculously flat. If Claire was not developed enough, her family wasn't developed at all. They are pretty much cardboard cut outs of stereotypes propped up at certain points in the story to help keep the plot going. And where the heck do they live again that EVERYONE has money. Not just money, but Money.
I got sick and tired of the pregnancies and miscarriages. How many times before you realize you are harming yourself and your husband to the point that you will never recover? Given what happens to him and all - aren't their lives hard enough?? Why do that to yourselves over and over? I understand the strong desire for a child, but why not adopt? Why was that not an option? I can't remember at that point if they knew it was a genetic disorder or not - but if they did, would they really want that for their child - wouldn't that be even more of a reason to adopt? And what the heck were they going to tell that child?? Given how talky the characters were, I was pretty surprised that there were no heartfelt discussions of how exactly they were going to raise a child in that type of environment and what they would tell other people, etc,
I really didn't like the abrupt cut from the grief on Henry dying to her being 85. That is a lot of time to cover and it felt cheap to not give even a token synopsis of how her and her daughter dealt with his death and her having the same disorder. I honestly can't decide whether her being able to see him one last time (it was him as a younger man jumping way ahead in time, so it was the past for Henry who was still dead) was touching or cruel. To deal with a devastating loss like that and so much time has gone by and to just have him pop back in like that - are you glad for one more precious moment or is it terribly cruel to give hope and snatch it away? And to do that to the daughter too?? I don't know.....
My feelings about the ending depend on my mood. Somedays I feel that the ending was depressing but realistic. Not everything has a happy ending and I hate it when movies and TV show that ANY problem can be solved in 30 minutes! So having something real, even if difficult, felt right. Other days I feel like it was crap. Sure life isn't always great but it isn't always crap either. And I hate fatalism like that - I hate the idea that life is crap and there is no escaping it.
I was also annoyed with Henry quitting - just giving up on life for so long after the feet thing. I get that he was depressed and all. I do. But he has lived his whole life not being able to depend on anything - not where he will wake up, not if he'll have money, not be able to see or be with the people he loves, having to be deposited in the middle of no where and scramble for clothes, food and money with no idea when and where he will return? This is a man who is incredibly resourceful and resilient. I just had a hard time believing that he would quit like that. Then again, I would imagine all those years of doing just that would take a toll on him and that was the final blow he just couldn't handle. But no, I still think it was out of character.
And the truly terrible
The two things that are just atrocious in this book - the references to her families black servants and Henry's friend and downstairs neighbor growing up, Kimmy. Wow. Holy Stereotypes batman!! Even given Claire's family having money and being upper crust and all - the whole description of them and the black servants was so odd and anachronistic. Wait - when did we all time travel to 1776?? Why is Mammy here? And with Henry's downstairs neighbor - she was slightly better written and I enjoyed her character in relation to Henry and all, but again, she was so stereotypical with the broken en-ga-rish and all. I don't know how she got away with those representations at all - how did not one editor or something say," uh, Audrey, could we talk about these ethnic characters? They might be a little too ethnic." Seriously. Absurd.
So that is it- I loved parts of this book and hated parts of this book. There was a lot that was well done and some that was criminal. I don't know if I wish someone else had taken this idea and written it or if I wish the author had held onto this idea until she had more books under her belt and could do it justice. Either way, I just can't truly recommend this book but I can't tell people to avoid it either. AARGH!(less)