Marissa's Reviews > The Time Traveler's Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
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Oct 20, 14

bookshelves: fiction
Recommended for: lovers of scifi, fantasy, or intelligent romance
read count: countless

Before Audry Niffenegger wrote The Time Traveler's Wife, she was a art teacher at a Chicago university. Thankfully, Niffenegger believes that art should imitate life, so we get a rip-roaring tour of her life passions: punk music, the Chicago art scene, the Newbery Library, and Chicago itself. These are the core elements that add ambiance to the love story of Henry Detamble - librarian and reluctant time traveler - and his wife, artist Claire Ashbury.

Henry has crono-displacement disorder and in times of stress, he "time jumps" to other periods of his life, leaving Claire alone in sequential time. I stayed up until almost four AM, engrossed in Time Traveler's Wife. I cheated by reading the last page first when I was halfway through it and put it aside for six months. TTW is the story of the (gorgeous) Henry DeTamble, sexy librarian and accidental time traveler, and his circular relationship with Claire, who is often left behind when Henry accidentally goes hurtling through time, usually against his will. The most unique part about it - and the most intelligent - is Niffenegger could have done the cliche plot - time machine, other centuries, etc - but chose not to, instead keeping the time travel in the modern day. No Jack Finney plots for her characters. Henry's unique path almost entirely focuses around dramatic incidents in his life - his mother's death,his father's depression, or his meeting Clare. The latter is the most unique part about this story - Henry first meets Clare when she is 6 and he is in his 20s, thanks to the time traveling. Ironically, when he accidentally visits her as a child, he is leaving the adult Claire, bereft and confused, in the "present." The book is told through monologues which I usually find pretty annoying but this was extraordinary.

The kick? In Niffennegger's world, time travel is a disease, an uncontrollable ailment which holds the victim in it's grip, manifesting only under extreme mental stress. As a result, Henry fights to stay "present" at his own wedding, only to loose and have an older "Henry" (age 43) pop into the ceremony to say the vows. What would be a groom's normal nerves set off the chrono-displacement gene (CDG). Also, our Henry time travels in the buff, which makes it pretty important to do things like pick locks, steal clothes, etc. You know - all the stuff they should teach in Boy Scouts.

And? The sheer real world *intelligence* of Henry and Clare - the references to AS Byatt, Violent Femmes, Ulysses, french poetry, J.B. Priestly, Rilke, Dickinson, etc. Thanks to Henry's librarian status, we get tons of delicious references to gorgeous poems, lit figures, etc.

It's a rarity in fiction to have a librarian character who is a man, a time traveler, reader and lover, while still leaping off the page as the world's first well-read, punk librarian.

Henry and Clare never dip to anything less than human, brilliant, vital, and remarkably alive. Guess who cried like moron through the past 42 pages? Moi. I haven't cried at a book since the end of Fried Green Tomatoes or maybe Harry 3. I made it through Jane Eyre, Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Hours, Jude the Obscure, Crimson Petal and White, and tons of other gut-wrenching books without a tear. I'm a little embarrassed by how much I adored this novel. Whew. ..And The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, and the Violent Femmes make appearances. Bless Niffennegger's visionary, music-adoring little self.

Apparently Gus Van Sant is directing the movie. Personally, I think Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) would have been the perfect director. Rachel McAdams (The Notebook, Wedding Crashers) will be Claire, while Eric Bana (The Hulk) will be Henry.


Dippy with love for this book. I've never been a romance girl, or sci-fi/fantasy but this one just rolled it all in to one yummy package.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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brook lovely review; and i totally agree re: michel gondry. that would have been a match made in heaven.

even still, i'm so excited to see them on the screen. if van sant messes it up, i may have to hunt him down.

i was sobbing through the last 40 some pages too, and i don't cry from books, so i'm right there with ya.


Saara It's Clare Abshire :/


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