Anne Valerie's Reviews > The Time Traveler's Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
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's review
Aug 02, 2007

really liked it
Read in February, 2007

This book is a debut for Audrey Niffenegger. And being a first-timer herself, i think she made the complex timelines with ease. The Time Traveler's Wife is a love story concealed inside a suspense novel but is far from a science fiction exploration of the space-time continuum. The book is about the two characters - Henry DeTamble and Clare Abshire whose passionate love affair endures across a sea of time and captures themselves in an impossibly romantic trap. Henry is a time-traveller; a genetic mutation which causes him to spontaneously travel through time, disappearing from view, leaving behind his clothes and possessions, and arriving naked in another time and another place. While Clare is leaving a chronologically normal life, Henry isn't. After their first meeting (Clare was 6 and Henry would be 36) Clare will always wait for his arrival. She has known him all her life. He visits her numerous times during her childhood and adolescence, and inadvertently reveals that they will be married in the future. His last visit is on her 18th birthday in 1989, and will be separated for two years. Finally, they meet in 1991, a real time for both of them, Clare is 20 and Henry is 28. Henry does not know anything about Clare and Clare has to show Henry the diary she made as a testament of Henry's existence in Clare's past, which is still in Henry's future. Henry begins to experience the events in Clare's childhood and at the same time experiencing life with the adult Clare in the present. In the novel, the future cannot be changed, and many tragic events are foreshadowed in the past.

When they soon get married, Clare and Henry have to struggle to survive and maintain their love, and at the same time fighting a complex disorder that constantly threatens their existence. They yearn for the domestic drudgery and the homely comforts of marriage without the constant fear of separation. He longs to be able to live only in the present and he and Clare desperately search for a medical treatment for the disorder but to no avail.

Although the love in the story is very much appalling and intense, a part of it I find ultimately depressing: Henry's father never recovers and continues to mourn for years when his mother died, and Ingrid (Henry's ex-girlfriend) committed suicide after losing Henry to Clare. The love in the story has such a passion with no middle ground, no growth from the experience.

But my most favorite part is the way Henry describes love through his letter to Clare. This is how it goes:

Clare, I want to tell you, again, I love you. Our love has been the thread through a labyrinth, the net under the high-wire walker, the only real thing in this strange life of mine that I could ever trust. Tonight I feel that my love for you has more density in this world than I do: as though I could linger on after me and surround you, keep you, hold you.

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Quotes Anne Valerie Liked

Audrey Niffenegger
“I hate to be where she is not, when she is not. And yet, I am always going. - Henry deTamble”
Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler's Wife

Audrey Niffenegger
“Why is love intensified by absence?”
Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler's Wife

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