The Time Traveler’s Wife

The Time Traveler’s Wife – (2003) Audrey Niffenegger

The reviews seemed unequivocally positive from both genre sites and from the mainstream media, so I figured this was going to be a ‘shoo in’ for a great time travel novel. I confess that the SF fan in me was really clamoring for the time travel aspect of the story and not so much to emotionally charged husband, wife, family relationships which figured prominently in the story. And that is why I ultimately did not enjoy this book as nearly as much as I had originally hoped.

In a nutshell, the story is about Henry, a man who uncontrollably travels through time. At any point in his ‘real’ time, he can find himself travelling either backwards or forward in time to points within his own lifespan. He often travels to familiar places, but sometimes to completely unknown places. A significant amount of his time travels bring him to a meadow near the house of a girl named Clare. He meets her first at the age of six and knows that he will fall in love with her and she will eventually become his wife. The book documents these time travels in chapter increments that denote his real age, and hers to frame exactly at which point in each of their lives the particular meetings are taking place.

The story does deliver on the both classic and novel time travel anomalies and situations the characters find themselves in. But the romance is the focus of the story and thus a lot of 500 plus pages are devoted to minutiae of the relationships and it was too much for me. I will give the author credit for setting up some great time paradoxes that are foreshadowed and has the readers waiting to see how the situations will work out. But in the end, the buildups were far more interesting than the climactic moments.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as sentimental as the next guy. But plodding through hundreds of pages about a couple questioning their love, realizing that their mother did not hate them after all, and wondering about the other person every time they are separated (in time) is not my cup of tea.

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