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The Time Traveler's Wife Paperback – May 27, 2004
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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.
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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Top customer reviews
I liked the eighties punk rock references, but she doesn’t give any mention to Fear, Bonnie Hayes and the Punts, The Circle Jerks, The Commandos, etc.
Now that I’ve got what I liked out of the way I’ll only mention a few things that I tended not to like, the artsy stuff, the claw footed bathtubs everywhere, someone being held at gunpoint while duct taped to a tree and having an erection, someone being shot with a rifle by a hunter in the shotgun only zone of Michigan, putting frost bitten feet into hot water, the protagonist letting a guy smoke a cigarette while having sex with her, the alcohol and drug use, I could go on, but you probably get the idea.
I wanted Henry arrested for pedophilia and Clare arrested for child abuse.
About half of the time I read everything from nonfiction to westerns. The other half of the time I read sci-fi and fantasy.
Sci-fi and fantasy authors I like include Douglas Adams, Isaac Asimov, Paolo Bacigalupi, Ray Bradbury, Orson Scott Card, Arthur C. Clarke, Earnest Cline, Suzanne Collins, Abe Evergreen, Diana Gabaldon, William R. Forstchen, Joe Haldeman, Robert A. Heinlein, Frank Herbert, Hugh Howey, George Martin, Larry Niven, Andre Norton, George Orwell, Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, John Scalzi, John Steakley, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Andy Weir.
For me, this book was an extremely tedious read, to the point that I actually set the book aside 3 different times while reading so I could finish other books that ended up being way more "worthy" reads. I felt that the pacing of the book was way too slow and oftentimes, the story went absolutely nowhere. A large part of this had to do with the writing being very inconsistent – at times, the writing was choppy, with a whole paragraph consisting of short, and sometimes incomplete, sentences, but then the next paragraph would have super long sentences and descriptions, then a few paragraphs later, it would be choppy again. Speaking of descriptions, that was another area which, looking at some of the reviews, I wasn't the only one who felt was problematic. Normally, I have no problem with authors being descriptive, as long as it is done properly and there is an identifiable purpose to being overly-descriptive – for example, to establish setting or to pull the reader into the characters' worlds or to relay particular characters' emotions, train of thought, etc. Unfortunately, this wasn't one of those cases, at least not for me. Throughout the book, the author often went into excruciating detail about the smallest of things that, for the most part, did nothing to further the plot (i.e. the grocery lists, detailed descriptions of food, the steps that Clare would take when putting together an art project, etc.). There were also entire swaths of dialogue between characters (i.e.: "…there is a knock at the door, Henry says, 'Come in', the door opens…" ) as well as quite a few scenes that I felt were meaningless, to the point that I wondered (more often than not) why the author even bothered to put those scenes in there (one example that sticks out is that scene at a party where Henry was having a detailed discussion with some strangers about what constitutes "punk" and "rock" and then proceeds to rattle off a list of rock (punk?) bands that they should be listening to). To me, all these extraneous descriptions, scenes, dialogue, etc. felt like 'unnecessary fluff' that seemed to serve no purpose other than to make the book way longer than it needed to be (my version was 530 pages). I honestly feel that if all the unnecessary stuff was cut from the book, it could've probably been pared down to around 350 pages or so).
I also found the way the book was structured to be very distracting – but this could just be me not understanding (or appreciating) the author's way of telling the story. The narrative goes back and forth in time, which is not a problem, since a lot of books do this and usually it just takes a little bit of slowing down the reading and sometimes checking back a few pages to see where the previous time period left off. The problem with the narrative here is that it doesn't simply switch back and forth between time periods – rather, it mixes past, present, and future sporadically throughout the book. Even though each chapter was labeled with the dates and characters involved as well as their ages at the time, I still found it extremely hard to follow the narrative, mostly because the order with which the author places many of the events that occur didn't really make sense. It also didn't help that some of the scenarios were too far-fetched (which I guess should be expected given this book is about time travel and therefore already puts it into 'science fiction' territory). Perhaps I'm just not keen on time-travel and science fiction stuff but I truly felt confused with all the instances of the characters appearing with different "versions" of other characters (i.e. the different versions of Clare that didn't always match up with the different versions of Henry) or, in some cases, the same character appearing in "duplicate" form (i.e. Henry's current self with his past self or future self). I actually spent so much time trying to sort out which Henry and which Clare was narrating each section that I ended up not paying much attention to the story itself (which was another reason why I wasn't able to relate to any of the characters on an emotional level – I could barely keep up with who was who)! I think if the author had structured the book differently, like in a way that was less distracting, I may have been able to focus on the story itself and perhaps actually find something to enjoy about it.
Overall, despite the issues I talk about above, I don't feel that this book was a complete lost cause (which I guess is obvious since I chose to give 3 stars instead of 1 or 2). It was definitely readable and some sections I would even say were entertaining. However, taken as a whole, the story didn't work for me. Even when I tried approaching it from a "contemporary romance" point of view, the story still fell flat for me, as I felt emotionally detached from the characters and didn't feel anything for anyone except for maybe one or two minor characters. While I don't really feel it is appropriate for me to comment on whether I would recommend this book or not (it didn't work for me but perhaps it might work for others), I know for sure that this is one book I wouldn't want to spend time reading again.
I had mixed feelings about this book. Once I got into the rhythm of jumping about in time, I was very intrigued by the story. I thought it was an exciting premise and expected more twists and turns because Henry's time traveling is dangerous. However, the story doesn't really take that direction. It remains a story about relationship ups and downs, and love and loss.
I thought this book had many moments that were very thought-provoking or very moving. Some of those scenes or themes really stayed with me. At the same time, the story also got bogged down by a lot of details about punk bands they like, food they cook, etc. Dreams are often described in extreme detail (not my favorite thing). By around the mid-way point, I was getting bored and I would set the book aside for days at a time. I think you could easily trim 100+ pages from this book and not lose anything significant.
By the end, I was eagerly turning through the last 100 pages quickly to reach the resolution, and that last section had some very touching moments. However, there is also a lot of build-up to the final scene that occurs on the last 2 pages and I was a little let down by it. The final scene was barely more than a page and I thought more detail would have been nice since both the reader and one of the main characters are waiting for this moment to arrive. I felt a little sold short by it.
Also - a side note: Though it's called "The Time Traveler's Wife," I really didn't feel like I knew Claire as well as I knew Henry. It seemed like more of the alternating 1st person perspectives were from Henry's point of view, and I cared for him more as a character. I felt some distance from Claire's character.
Overall: Interesting premise. Pretty writing (though sometimes it meanders and the pace is often slow). Thought-provoking. Dreamy, sad love story. Just don't go into it expecting an exciting time travel adventure.