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Archive > April 2009 book is The Time Traveller's Wife by Niffenegger

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Please feel free to start discussions!

message 2: by Jaimie (new)

Jaimie | 3 comments Read this one a few years ago. I'll have to re-read it to remember anything beyond the basic plot! I do own it though, so that won't be a problem.

Christina Stind I read it last year and liked it. It was a five-star read for me and even though it took a bit to get into it, it was well worth it.
It is a beautiful love story about making it work despite huge difficulties.
Having recently gotten my Masters in philosophy, I liked that it touches on some huge philosophical issues like the question of time, personal identity through time and free will vs. determinism. It's interesting but doesn't go into depth with these discussions - just hints at them so you can decide for yourself.

message 4: by Lorena (last edited Apr 01, 2009 07:52AM) (new)

Lorena (lorenalilian) I read this last year as well and while I loved the story and the delivery, hated the characters. This is one those books that will stay with me for a long time. I think is great for book clubs as it sparks tons of conversation.


I found Claire to be the perpetual "nurse-girlfriend" intended to "fix" her man despite all, the kind of woman who needs to be in this chaotic relationship to thrive, the one who needs to clinge knowing she'll be abandoned at one point but just keeps pushing for something that will not be. The one who makes excuses for her partner to justify his behavoir.

The choices she takes on later on the book are despicable and selfish in my eyes. The kind of woman who will have children no matter if they'll suffer or be taken care of, the kind of person who wants to become a parent even when they know it is not for the best. Just a waste of humanity.

As for Henry, I found him extremely creepy and quite the pervert in the way he relates to young Claire.

One thing that kept coming back to my mind was whether his absence and his dissapearences were real or not, I thought that perhaps what we were really talking about was abandonment, that the real theme was a partner taking off when the going got tough and nothing else.

message 5: by Shannon (new)

Shannon (sianin) I read this book two years ago and found it difficult slogging sometimes but overall a really good read.

Wow, Lorena, at first I was totally agreeing with your take on the characters but then you went a step further than I did. And Christina, given what I thought about the characters, I would have a hard time calling it a "Beautiful" love story. Perhaps a love story but there seemed to me to be too much manipulation.


I agree that I found the characters very difficult to like and was frustrated with Claire and agree that she was a fixer. Part of my frustration was that she had been cultivated into being the person that Henry needed by Henry himself |(as a grown man and husband)as he visited her throughout her formative years. Which brings me to creepy Henry.

I found Henry to be creepy but looked at through his own lens, time must have been pretty wonky for him and at least he did not physically or sexually abuse young Claire. In the end, although I never liked him, I did feel a bit sorry for him especially as his condition became more violent. The fear for him became quite palpable. I also felt sorry for him that he kept getting drawn to the moments before his mothers death. I can't imagine how damaging to him that must have been. Most people relive those nightmares in their own minds but to actually witness it over and over and relive survivors guilt every time! Ai yi yi.

What I really loved about the book was the fresh take on time travel: i.e. that the old rules were thrown out. No more external mechanism to travel through time (time machine, worm hole, standing stones or other devicecs), no control over when you travel (the spontanaity of it), and that you actually can let yourself see yourself and talk to yourself (but did he really have to mutually masturbate himself - interesting but weird).

I thought it was also interesting the speculation that this might be the evolution of humans, which seems pretty improbably given how difficult it was to have a child and how difficult and dangerous a life being a time traveller was. It seemed to me much more that this would be a deadend genetic mutation.

That's it for now, I will pull my book off of my mothers shelf and take a look to remind myself what else I had thought about the book. And my apologies if my memory is a bit off. It has been awhile.

An excellent book for discussion and I look forward to following the thread and further participation.

message 6: by Wendy (new)

Wendy (wldinnis) I am going to start reading the book shortly. I just got it from the library today.

message 7: by Lorena (new)

Lorena (lorenalilian) ***************Possible Spoilers***************

Shannon, I just have issue with people who have children knowing they can't provide or take good care of them ... ;o) You brought up another excellent point with the whole grooming Henry does, perhaps that is why Claire seems so spineless because she was preconditioned to expect this or that, kind of programmed into thinking this was indeed her future ... that is what I love about discussing books because it just opens other windows of possibilities.

BTW, I did like the new take on time travel as well.

message 8: by Shannon (new)

Shannon (sianin) Lorena:

I hear you about people having kids for their own satisfaction and without care or thought to what it might mean for the child(ren).

Christina Stind I think it's a beautiful love story because they both do everything they can to make it work - in spite of huge differences.
Did Henry groom Clare? I'm not sure - he did teach her about himself and that they were together later on, but I remember him being careful not to tell her too much. And intentionally grooming her would mean he would know what to do and tell her to make her become the woman he is in love with and married to later on - and I'm not sure he would know enough to achieve that.
But it brings another perspective to the book for me that makes it even more interesting.

message 10: by Shannon (new)

Shannon (sianin) I agre that Henry did not seem to intentionally groom Clare and I would think that my use of hte word cultivated is the wrong one. Perhpas conditioned is better as the repeated visits did condition her towards accepting him.

I am curious what people thought about the wings that Clare made for Henry and what all of that was supposed to signify?

message 11: by Mandy (new)

Mandy I read this book last year and I really enjoyed it. I love these discussions because it has brought to light some things I wouldn't have thought about. I never thought for an instant that the relationship between Clare and Henry was perverse. I do remember wondering why on earth they were thinking of having children, just the risk seemed too much for me. I did like how the book ended.

message 12: by Aine (last edited Apr 10, 2009 03:19AM) (new)

Aine O'Mahoney | 8 comments Thomma wrote: "I read this book last year, too. It's a page turner, well-written, but I wasn't crazy about the characters. Still the ending made me cry buckets.

One thing I didn't get: if it was so hard for C..."

Hi Thomma,

That crossed my mind also... Another problem I had with the book was why Clare?

Are we supposed to accept that it was fate that brought them together? Most of Henrys other time travelling trips were associated with people he already in his life, like Kimmy, his parents, Ingrid.. Why did he make this initial connection and constantly revisit Clare? Especially when their first encounter was when she was six years old. I know he didn't really have a choice where he ended up, so was it just the hand of fate that kept pushing him in the direction of Clare?

Despite its flaws, I loved this book the pop culture references, the characters... There is also something about this book that makes you want to live in the moment and appreciate what you have around you, which isn't a bad thing...

message 13: by Kellie (new)

Kellie (acountkel) | 9 comments Excellent comments everyone.
I read this book 2 years ago and went back and read my review to refresh my memory....
There are several questions I had at the end of this book that I felt had not been answered. Toward the end, Henry is losing weight and is not looking well. What was happening? Was he sick with a disease? Or was this the CDO that was affecting his health? Or was it the mental anguish of knowing his life was coming to an end that was affecting him physically? The day Henry was shot in the meadow. I am not really clear exactly what happened. Mark and Clare’s Dad were involved. I gather they shot Henry. Did they try and help him? Did they call an ambulance? Or, did Henry time travel before they could do anything? After finishing this book, I searched the internet to see if I could find the answers, read reviews and see if other people felt the same way I did. There were several readers who said exactly what I thought “Hard to wrap your brain around”, “Too Long”, “A few holes left open”.

I thought the end of the book was sad but fitting. Clare lived most of her life waiting for Henry. The fact that she just about stopped living after he died, was not out of character. And again, she knew she would see him again when she was in her eighties and managed to survive for that moment. A satisfying ending, with a few unresolved issues to ponder....

When I first heard about this book, I thought it was sci-fi and I had visions of the old movie “Time After Time” with Mary Steenburgen and Malcolm McDowell. I am happy to say I was off the mark. I thought this idea of time travel that actually had a name “Chrono-Displacement Order” was ingenious. I also liked the fact this all occurred in the present. Or at least within the last 20 years or so.

message 14: by Shannon (new)

Shannon (sianin) Hi Kellie:

******spoiler alert*******

There were definitely some questions left open in the book and I like how you phrased the ones around his deteriorating health. My take on it was that is was the CDO doing it to him, but that was just my take on it. In part, I felt this way because he was landing in more and more dangerous positions each time he disappeared (or more correctly appeared). and with that in mind, it makes you feel sad for his daughter.

Re. the shooting, I gathered that Clare's Dad and brother shot him (and that is why they never trusted him when he showed up as Clare's boyfriend - hard to explain but I think they saw enough of him to know that the man they shot looked an awful lot like Henry the boyfriend and for all sorts of reasons that put them off of him). I think he disappeared too quickly for anyone to really react and help him as there was some shock going on etc. I think afterward they probably could never really believe it happened (but that is my conjecture).

Thanks for posting your thoughts and questions, I wonder if others felt the same as I did or answered them differently.

message 15: by Nikki (new)

Nikki (tikki_nik2) | 5 comments Hi,

I read this book a few years back and haven't revisited it as I no longer have a copy of it. I remember I really found the book hardwork and it took me a long time to get through it, but halfway through somewhere the story just clicked and then I was hooked. It was definately an interesting perspective on time travel, but I also agree with the comments about the characters - Claire being weak and Henry being creepy. Those things stand out in my mind as I try to remember the story!

message 16: by Avigail (new)

Avigail (avigailr) I loved this book. I really enjoyed the way the book travels back and forth through time...the way he would meet himself at different ages and the way his wife had experienced memories of him that he hadn't had yet, etc.
EXCELLENT! If you're looking for an entertaining book, this is it!

Well I read the book three years ago and I couldn't put it down. I loved from the first page. It also made me cry like a baby at the end.

message 17: by Rhonda (last edited Apr 17, 2009 01:04PM) (new)

Rhonda (rhondak) I admit that at first, I was thinking of Somewhere in Time, but quickly threw that stereotype away. This does remind me somewhat of The Lathe of Heaven, a work of which I am inordinately fond, by Ursula Le Guin.
Spoilers ahead!
The character of Clare is constantly forced to practice waiting, essentially raised with that very idea in mind. Whether she likes it or not, Henry is coming back for her or to her. In one sense at least, this seemed a kind of romantic attachment in which an older man takes advantage. However, it is reasonably clear that Henry has no more control over it than she does.
While I wondered whether that was fair for either of them, I kept coming back to the greater hand which controlled putting them together, the fate of the universe, as it were. I was reminded, (since I was already reading him,) of the words of Rilke:
Love is at first not anything that means merging, giving over, and uniting with another (for what would a union be of something unclarified and unfinished, still subordinate-?); it is a high inducement to the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world for himself in another's sake.

On the negative side, I thought that Clare was far more understanding than I could even imagine, especially after meeting Henry's ex-girlfriend in the loo at the dance. When he explains, she accepts: even after a few hundred pages, that didn't seem likely. Henry is far braver and possesses more fortitude to continue inlife than any man I have ever met! Frankly, I don't think she writes Henry very realistically, but essentially as a kind of dream lover. Even his bad character seems romantic! Gomez comes across as more of an angel than anything else. Who could imagine a man watching someone kicking his friend on the sidewalk for any reason or remaining rational afterwards? All the men seem to have perfect control over their passions. It's not that I wouldn't like to see that, but I just don't find it very satisfyingly realistic. The men seem like characters women would like them to be.., even after I cut her some slack for writing a fantasy novel in the first place.
I also didn't like the depiction of Henry's mother's death. I also think it would have been HIGHLY unlikely for the Ford to have had seatbelts in 1962. The gruesome death scene was bad enough (wasn't a movie star decapitated in some way similar to this?) but I admit that it might have been reason enough for me to drink yearly too. It all seemed undeniably horrible as was his yearly reaction to it, including the one where he has his stomach pumped.
I love the book, but I certainly would be interested in a male point of view.

message 18: by Christine (new)

Christine | 6 comments I've always wanted to read this one and am glad to have a book club to discuss it with. I'll be picking this up this week to start!

message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

I won't go into details in case people haven't finished it, but I hated this book. The most over-rated book since the Twilight series.

message 20: by Lorena (new)

Lorena (lorenalilian) Oh no, now you have to tell me why you hated it so much ... he he he ;o)

I hated several of the characters (Claire and Henry to be exact), and can't understand how people think this is a love story, as I have posted before, but found the book entertaining.

message 21: by Sandra (new)

Sandra (sanddune) I like this book. Am still in the middle of it carefully avoiding spoilers. Something about Henry fascinates me. Think it well written. Can't see it as a great love story, though.

Enjoyed the scene where Claire introduces Henry to her grandmother.

message 22: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 19, 2009 01:04AM) (new)

I have to start studying in a few minutes so I'll keep the answer short, but I hated 'The Time Travellers Wife' for various reasons. The main reason why I hated it was because I found it incredibly boring. Why? I hated Claire and Henry. I cared nothing for them or about their relationship, which made for tedious reading as the book is centred around their relationship.I've heard people say that they think the fact that Henry can time-travel makes the book facinating. It lost its novelty to me after the first 30 pages. Because I really disliked Henry and Claire, I didn't find the ending sad at all- and trust me, I am a complete cry baby when it comes to books. I wasn't at all moved.

message 23: by Lorena (new)

Lorena (lorenalilian) LOL! I love it! I do remember at one point thinking my self "is this dude ever going to die or what?" HA! ... and I thought I was the only heartless one in this bunch.

message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

**********spoiler alert*************

Truthfully? His death was my favourite part of the book. Mostly because his death coincided with the end of the book.

message 25: by Shannon (new)

Shannon (sianin) I liked the book but I will admit that I didn't like the characters and never found it to be a convincing love story.

message 26: by Lorena (new)

Lorena (lorenalilian) Roisu wrote: "**********spoiler alert*************

Truthfully? His death was my favourite part of the book. Mostly because his death coincided with the end of the book. "


message 27: by JESSICA (new)

JESSICA (iamasuburbanmom) | 52 comments I devoured this book.
I read the whole thing in a matter of days.
But when I got to the last quarter of the book I realized that I was in love with the concept of time travel as envisioned by the author, not in love with the story and the characters and what was going on in their lives.

******** spoiler alert *********
I think the author really lost me when Claire and Henry constantly try to get pregnant and eventually suffer 9 miscarraiges.
I also didn't feel particularly sad when Henry dies, because he still returns to his child and sees her as an adult. Losing your life pales in my mind when those who love you can still be surprised by your return.

message 28: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline (vayleen) I love this book. I think it's a fantastic love story because I think real love stories should be ugly as well as beautiful and melancholy as well as happy. There's no "happily ever after" in life as we know it so I don't often enjoy it in the novels I read. I enjoyed this one. I thought it was vivid and imaginative.

I went to school for molecular biology and philosophy, but I don't think a reader needs that background in order to enjoy this book. Still, it made the genetics easy to comprehend (even if it's impossible it's still imaginative) and the philosophy that popped up in the story interesting to contemplate. Henry lives a nonlinear life. How does this shape him and those around him? It's amazing and crazy how it all comes together - from his childhood, to Claire's childhood, to their lives together and how Claire, in the end, lives without Henry.

The biologist in me thinks "what the hell could possibly be the evolutionary advantage of Henry's bizarre epileptic disorder?" Henry once mentions it as the ability to survive, though later we see how he's wrong. I don't know. Someone with a lot of time on their hands probably came up with some oddball scientific theory similar the evolutionary advantage of diabetes during severe global warming.

message 29: by Sandra (new)

Sandra (sanddune) Did anyone besides me wonder what Henry was doing in the time he was gone? Where he went? Who he was with?
There had been a hint of another relationship but I think that was before he met Claire.

message 30: by Ulya A.K (new)

Ulya A.K | 1 comments i liked the fresh take on time travelling and how it was portrayed.

On Henri and Claire's relationship, the way i see it, it wasnt perfect and neither are both of them but they kept on trying to make it work. So it's interesting to read the beautiful, the ugly and even the flaws of it..

message 31: by Wendy (new)

Wendy (wldinnis) The other relationship was in his "normal" life not the time traveling one. Since he did not travel back to Claire's youth until after he had married Claire in the present, I don't think it mattered except for Claire's run-in with his ex and her girlfriend.

message 32: by Adam (new)

Adam | 2 comments Just finished the book last night, and, like many of you, didn't overly care for it. The time travel thing was pretty cool, but I didn't find it very romantic. In fact, despite Henry's best efforts, I found it pretty creepy at times.

Little things like Henry's pretentious music tastes annoyed me to no end. I don't want to be around people like that in RL, much less read about them.

message 33: by Dan (new)

Dan Porter (theancientreader) I read this a couple of years ago and liked it a lot. I'm interested in the comments about not liking the characters because I read The Memory Keeper's Daughter a few months before reading The Time Traveller's Wife and disliked it due to the weak and unrealistic characters there. I've seen many positive reviews for The Memory Keeper's Daughter and am curious: If you've read both books and disliked The Time Traveller's Wife because of the characters, what is your opinion of The Memory Keeper's Daughter?

message 34: by Tom (new)

Tom (tommyro) Dan wrote: "I read this a couple of years ago and liked it a lot. I'm interested in the comments about not liking the characters because I read The Memory Keeper's Daughter a few months before reading The Tim..."

Great point, Dan. I haven't read either of these books, but I've been following a discussion in another group on The Reader. Talk about an unlikable character! I think unlikable characters is an ongoing major trend in fiction - not just the antagonist of the story's hero, but the protagonist him/herself is not that likable. It demonstrates the value of fiction in understanding the world we live in. As our society devolves, so do we in response and fiction is grappling with that.

message 35: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline (vayleen) I agree. Even beyond books, in movies and television, the unlikeable anithero seems to become more and more popular as time goes on.

Dan, I have not read The Memory Keeper's Daughter but I received it as a gift so I'll probably be reading it the future. I keep your question in mind then.

message 36: by Ananya (new)

Ananya (sowmyas) Thomma wrote: "I read this book last year, too. It's a page turner, well-written, but I wasn't crazy about the characters. Still the ending made me cry buckets.

One thing I didn't get: if it was so hard for C..."

I know its been a long time since this thread started but I just finished this book and looked for any discussions on this.
I was wondering the same thing. Also it didn't seem like Henry time traveled until the visit to the museum? The one he told his mother about and she thought it was just a dream. Then too he was being visited by his older self.
For quite some time, until the genetic issue was brought up in the book, I imagined it was all an allegory, about the choices we make in life (simply put).
But later it was a bit muddled with the abstract blending with or into the purely descriptive.

message 37: by Elena (new)

Elena I couldn't get into the book, but I watched the movie a couple of days ago. It was good. I don't remember Henry traveling to any museum??

message 38: by Ananya (new)

Ananya (sowmyas) Elena wrote: "I couldn't get into the book, but I watched the movie a couple of days ago. It was good. I don't remember Henry traveling to any museum??"

Is it the library(?) where he is taught how to steal?

message 39: by Elena (new)

Elena Well, I guess the movie is different because there was no library, and no stealing. Anybody watched the movie?

message 40: by Ananya (last edited Mar 12, 2010 06:32AM) (new)

Ananya (sowmyas) Well, the stealing part occurs much later..The old Henry teaches the young one, how to pick pockets etc.

Maggie the Muskoka Library Mouse (mcurry1990) I enjoyed this book, but found it a little bit confusing. I haven't seen the movie yet, but plan to eventually.

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