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


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 546 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (May 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 015602943X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156029438
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,570 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This highly original first novel won the largest advance San Francisco-based MacAdam/Cage had ever paid, and it was money well spent. Niffenegger has written a soaring love story illuminated by dozens of finely observed details and scenes, and one that skates nimbly around a huge conundrum at the heart of the book: Henry De Tamble, a rather dashing librarian at the famous Newberry Library in Chicago, finds himself unavoidably whisked around in time. He disappears from a scene in, say, 1998 to find himself suddenly, usually without his clothes, which mysteriously disappear in transit, at an entirely different place 10 years earlier-or later. During one of these migrations, he drops in on beautiful teenage Clare Abshire, an heiress in a large house on the nearby Michigan peninsula, and a lifelong passion is born. The problem is that while Henry's age darts back and forth according to his location in time, Clare's moves forward in the normal manner, so the pair are often out of sync. But such is the author's tenderness with the characters, and the determinedly ungimmicky way in which she writes of their predicament [...] that the book is much more love story than fantasy. It also has a splendidly drawn cast, from Henry's violinist father [...] to Clare's odd family and a multitude of Chicago bohemian friends. [...] It is a fair tribute to her skill and sensibility to say that the book leaves a reader with an impression of life's riches and strangeness rather than of easy thrills.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --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.

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.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

914 of 1,007 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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519 of 576 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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182 of 210 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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397 of 473 people found the following review helpful By E. Graham on October 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
I'm quite obviously in the minority here, particularly among non-fans: I found the narrative jumping around in time to be quite effective - the characters are often confused and surprised by non-linear time; this device gives us a taste of that. Nor was I bothered by the use of profanity, descriptions of sexuality, or the idea that an adult Henry maintains contact with Claire as a child.

It's what happens (or doesn't happen) in the space between that sets my teeth on edge. For example: we are forced to endure paragraph (after paragraph after paragraph) describing a game of pool. Not the interactions between characters during said pool game, no no. If you like to listen to golf on the radio, then you might find who-made-what-shot-in-which-pocket to be entertaining. I started to rage because I was wasting so much time reading this nonsense.

I was also thoroughly annoyed at the 'name dropping' style of writing that was sometimes rewarded with an explanation, but most often not. I can't remember all of the characters names offhand, but they'll enter the story with something like, 'Fred walked in and startled me.' Yeah, he startled me too. Who the hell is Fred? We find out several pages later, 'Fred Flintstone was a childhood friend'. Thanks, coulda used that information ten minutes ago.

But this isn't limited to people. The characters ponder going to Ann Sather's for something to eat. Neighbor? Relative? Last night's one-night-stand who happens to make great waffles? Two pages later it's revealed that it's a Swedish restaurant. They talk of the CSO - only later can the acronym be explained as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. As a Chicago native I recognized these references, but they grated on me nonetheless.

Same with descriptions.
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