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The Time Traveler's Wife Paperback – May 6, 2014
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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 the Audible Audio Edition edition.
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 the Audible Audio Edition edition.
Top Customer Reviews
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!
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. 'He looked like Joe Schmoe.' Great. That helps. Not 'his hair was slicked back in that Joe Schmoe style' or something like that - at least then I would start to form a mental picture. To use a similie with a subculture or hipster reference and no context is pretentious and condescending. 'He answered the phone while standing in front of a Maholy-Nagy poster'. How many people are familiar with the Chicago Bauhaus movement and would get this reference? What does it add to the story?
I've gone on too long already with my rant and haven't even mentioned the street directions - complete with street names. I don't care which streets you take to get to the library, either tell me what happens along the way or just get there already.
The one highlight of the book (and yes, there is one), is the climactic scene we all know is coming. It was handled in a very touching and sensitive way that nearly brought me to tears. If only the rest of the book could be like these three pages, I wouldn't have to count it among the absolute worst books I've ever read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not really a SciFi book even though the main plot can put it on that shelf.Read more