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The Time Traveler's Wife Paperback – May 27, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This clever and inventive tale works on three levels: as an intriguing science fiction concept, a realistic character study and a touching love story. Henry De Tamble is a Chicago librarian with "Chrono Displacement" disorder; at random times, he suddenly disappears without warning and finds himself in the past or future, usually at a time or place of importance in his life. This leads to some wonderful paradoxes. From his point of view, he first met his wife, Clare, when he was 28 and she was 20. She ran up to him exclaiming that she'd known him all her life. He, however, had never seen her before. But when he reaches his 40s, already married to Clare, he suddenly finds himself time travelling to Clare's childhood and meeting her as a 6-year-old. The book alternates between Henry and Clare's points of view, and so does the narration. Reed ably expresses the longing of the one always left behind, the frustrations of their unusual lifestyle, and above all, her overriding love for Henry. Likewise, Burns evokes the fear of a man who never knows where or when he'll turn up, and his gratitude at having Clare, whose love is his anchor. The expressive, evocative performances of both actors convey the protagonists' intense relationship, their personal quirks and their reminiscences, making this a fascinating audio.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

On the surface, Henry and Clare Detamble are a normal couple living in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. Henry works at the Newberry Library and Clare creates abstract paper art, but the cruel reality is that Henry is a prisoner of time. It sweeps him back and forth at its leisure, from the present to the past, with no regard for where he is or what he is doing. It drops him naked and vulnerable into another decade, wearing an age-appropriate face. In fact, it's not unusual for Henry to run into the other Henry and help him out of a jam. Sound unusual? Imagine Clare Detamble's astonishment at seeing Henry dropped stark naked into her parents' meadow when she was only six. Though, of course, until she came of age, Henry was always the perfect gentleman and gave young Clare nothing but his friendship as he dropped in and out of her life. It's no wonder that the film rights to this hip and urban love story have been acquired. Elsa Gaztambide
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 546 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt (May 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224072374
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224072373
  • ASIN: 015602943X
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,644 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Audrey Niffenegger is a visual artist and a faculty member at Columbia College in Chicago. In addition to her bestselling debut novel, The Time Traveler's Wife, she is the author of two illustrated novels, The Three Incestuous Sisters and The Adventuress. She lives in Chicago.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

921 of 1,016 people found the following review helpful By Diana on September 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"The Time Traveler's Wife" is one of the most interesting, powerful books I've read in a long time. Audrey Niffenegger did a beautiful job taking some of the most complex ideas - time travel, marriage, love, children, friends, literary and artistic allusions, religion, death, drugs, childhood, growing, loss, and what it means to be human - and weaving them together poetically and with amazing clarity. Her characters are wonderful, "real" people with strengths and flaws, and I really grew to adore them. Despite skipping around time at the same rate as Henry, the time traveler, the events are sequenced in such a way that you still witness each character's growth as a person, as well as discover many surprises along the way. Clare and Henry's story is one of the best love stories I've read in a very long time. This book also echoes important modern-day questions about the appropriateness of gene therapy, and what it means to be a human being. I highly and enthusiastically recommend this book.
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523 of 581 people found the following review helpful By crazyforgems on November 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I admit: I am an easy touch when it comes to time-travel books. I have loved such diverse books with this theme as "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court", "A Wrinkle in Time," and "Time and Again."
I was not disappointed by "The Time Traveler's Wife." The book both moved me and challenged me to think about a number of deeper issues in life (most notably, the true meaning of love in a romantic relationship).
The underlying story concerns Henry, a librarian at the Newberry Library in Chicago, and Clare, his artist wife. Henry suffers from CDP (Chrono-Displacement Order) which whisks him from the present to another point of time (usually the past). One minute he may be in the stacks of the Newberry Library in 2003, the next minute he may find himself in a field (probably naked) in Michigan with his future wife as a child sometime in the early 1980's.
The author does an excellent job of sequencing the book. Even though Henry is shuttling back and forth in every chapter, she manages to move the plot forward. You do feel that you see Henry and Clare meeting, falling in love, starting a marriage and going through the stages of their lives. You do get to know their family and friends and see life happen to them.
However, I do feel that the author could have better developed all of her characters, particularly the supporting ones. I wanted to learn more about their close friends, Gomez and Charisse, and their troubled marriage. I felt that the landlady from Henry's child-whom he constantly visited in his time-traveling modes-was a sketch figure that could have been better developed. I wished that the author could have mined deeper into the inner feelings of Henry and Clare.
Still I would highly recommend this book to most readers. (If time-travel books bother you, this won't change your opinion.) It is a good, hard-to-put down read. And at the end, you're exhausted by all the travel!
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188 of 217 people found the following review helpful By Monica Morgan on April 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I stumbled across this book by mistake and hesitated to read it simply because it was 518 pages. To my surprise, I devoured this book in a few days and felt a pang of sadness when it was finished. The author crafts a story of something that is quite unbelievable and yet deftly makes it so very believable. I was hooked after the first chapter. Niffenegger managed to suck me in to this story so that I felt emotionally bound to the characters and their plight. It's a tragic story that weaves so much love/pain/joy/disappointment that it fairly bursts with emotion. Read it!
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322 of 382 people found the following review helpful By Alok Joddha Hernandez on January 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
Unlike a lot of the other critics of this book, I didn't have a problem with the idea that a six-year-old Clare could fall in love with a forty-year-old Henry. I didn't have a problem with Henry breaking into places or all that other stuff either. But I had MANY problems with this book.

One of the main problems I have with this book is brilliantly exemplified on page 392 -- the date, September 11th, 2001:

"Henry says, 'Wake up, Clare.' I open my eyes. The television picture swerves around. A city street. A sky. A white skyscraper on fire. An airplane, toylike, slowly flies into the second white tower. Silent flames shoot up. Henry turns up the volume. 'Oh my God,' says the voice of the television. 'Oh my God.'"

... And then this event is never referred to ever again. The story does not take place in New York, nor does 9/11 bear any kind of noticeable emotional impact upon any of the characters in any way. And yet this paragraph is in the book anyway. Why? Good question -- I'd like to know too. But this is only the most typified example of the author's compulsive habit of putting in useless subplots and shallow tangents into the book for no particular reason at all. Examples of this are littered throughout the book. Henry's mother died when he was only a young boy -- this apparently had such a traumatic effect upon him that he is constantly involuntarily sent back to the moment of her death to witness it again -- Henry even goes so far as to say that it's almost as if all his time traveling REVOLVES around this one event. Okay, fine. I can accept that -- there's a lot of potential in an idea like that. But where does the author take this? Nowhere. Absolutely nowhere.
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