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Henry's Two Month Disappearance... Explanation?

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Madison In the chapter "Experiencing Technical Difficulties" (May 7, 2004; Henry is 40, Clare is 32), Henry time travels from his present to an unknown destination during Clare's art exhibit. The last line of the chapter is Clare asking Alba where Henry is and her reply is, "Gone" (pg 412). The next chapter (July 11, 2004; Clare is 33, Henry is 41) begins with Clare discovering her husband on the floor bruised, bleeding, tanned, emaciated, and with longer hair. Henry and Clare weep together, rocking on the floor in one another's arms.

My question is this: It seems relatively certain that Henry was absent from his present for two months, but where did he go, and how did this occurrence play into/affect the overall story/plot?

I haven't noticed any other references to this event anywhere else in the novel.

message 2: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy It's been a while since I read this, but I do remember this part a bit. I don't think we ever get an explanation of where he was, but just from his physical state upon return, I'd guess he traveled somewhere hot and remote and could not travel back right away.

Madison That's what I was guessing, but no where else in the novel does he disappear for so long a period. I was wondering why this event was in the book if it's never referred to again; perhaps foreshadowing? He also only travels relative to his own timeline, so he couldn't have traveled to, say, the Sahara in the 30s. And why did it take him two months to return? Where did he go, why? And why isn't this a bigger part of the story than a single page, never to be referenced again?

A mystery with so many unanswered questions :-/

Michele Harrod Hi, gosh, been a long time for me too, I remember him losing a foot (frost bite) and of course that was going to inhibit him running to safety when he 'travelled' after that age. Is this when he brought Claire the lottery ticket - as he'd seen the numbers in the future of course, and that set her up for life (as he knew he wouldn't be there to take care of her). Also, him travelling back to see Claire when she was much younger, and of course being shot by her own father. Hmm, time to re-read this exquisite novel I think. I cried so hard at the end of this book - I missed my friends Henry and Claire so badly after it was done. Quite a novel.

message 5: by Madison (last edited Nov 25, 2012 02:10PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Madison I know, I definitely cried a lot at the end of this book; it's so heartbreaking.

Henry brought Clare the lottery ticket soon after their marriage- before he was aware of his death - because he noticed she was cramped and creatively limited in her tiny art studio. So they bought a house with the lottery money, one with a giant studio in the backyard.

Then they had their daughter, Alba, and when she was 4-5 he lost his feet due to the frostbite. He died on New Year's Eve, the year she was 5, after being shot by her brother Mark (he and Clare's father were hunting) during one of Henry's trips.

It's such an intricate novel, the way she jumped between time periods and yet followed a chronological path at the same time. And yet throughout the book the reader could feel the clock ticking, running out of time. Really a great book all around.

Michele Harrod That's right!! And of course, he recognised the house didn't he, because he'd travelled there when he was shot. OK, I'd like to think that the 'missing 2 months' were spent with Claire all those years later, at the end of her life, when he finally showed up once again. That works for me!!

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