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on January 10, 2016
I have put off reading this book for a long time. I had no idea why it kept popping up in different suggestions for me. I enjoy Time Travel books but this sounded more like a love story. So I kept putting it off. Then finally read an article that referred to this story as one of the best time travel stories so I decided to give it a chance.
I was immediately rewarded. This book engaged me in the first few minutes and never let go. What an amazing and unique perspective on this genre.
This is a great story.
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on September 26, 2017
It is interesting how the books that defy confinement to a single genre provide the most intriging premises. The Time Traveler’s Wife is neither romance, nor science fiction, nor pure fantasy. Henry, the time traveler, is the protagonist, with time itself as the antagonist. It is a man versus nature story told with new ideas. Points for originality.

My quibbles with the story are with Clare, the wife. Much of the story is centered on her, especially when her husband is traveling, yet her character seems underdeveloped. I kept waiting for something, some event, to endear her to me, but it was never to be. It was a missed opportunity that knocked a star from the review.

I’m still glad I read it. It is long, but even if you don’t finish it, the interesting ideas Niffenegger presents are worth a look.
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on February 11, 2018
Love, love, loved this book. A very touching, timeless love. You MUST pay attention to the dates at the beginning of each chapter in order to make sense of the story though—as it jumps back and forth through time just like Henry jumps randomly through time. Be sure to keep a box of tissues beside you as you delve into the story. (On a "side note," the movie based on this book received mostly poor reviews, however, I found the movie to be quite good because I read the book and understood what was happening and why...) I highly recommend first reading this book and then watching the movie! I first read this book when it was loaned to me back in 2003 when it was first published by a coworker and recently purchased the Kindle book for my mother to read while she's in the throes of "Droughtlander"!!
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VINE VOICEon October 25, 2009
WARNING -- The author is neither a scientist nor a philosopher, and the quandaries of time travel are glossed over in favor of a romantic story. Enjoy the "paranormal romance" for what it is, but don't let the book title that suggests "science-fiction" fool you.

The first hundred or so pages until the reader catches up to Henry and Clare in the present are fairly good. Readers who thought he was a pedophile for hanging around her as a little kid are off base. I thought it was thought-provoking and had a lot of potential. And as a woman, I can see how she'd grow up with a school-girl crush on him. Last thirty or so pages also fairly good. The end should've been so much better though. It was telegraphed with almost a hundred pages left in the book. That was a let-down. But the book was a quick and easy read.

Due to the casual way the author tosses around time travel, she creates a bit of a paradox. Henry cannot change events that have already occurred. The dilemma of free-will vs. predestination is clear...but Niffenegger breaks this rule repeatedly in other ways (no spoilers but I could go on and on). It's like she's saying, "Don't worry about the details. They're in luuuuuv!"

But the love story is weak too. Their lust for each other is clear, but there are times when it seems like Henry really needs her toward the end and she's off making paper sculptures. A couple scenes (one in particular) seemed sexually explicit to me. I feel like Niffenegger constantly pushes it down the reader's throat, like "Look, they're having sex again. They're so in luuuuuv!"

The POV switches between Henry and Clare, presented in journal form. Each chapter or scene change is preceded by the date, ages of Henry and Clare, and whose POV it is. This discredits the reader, especially in Henry's POV when he lands somewhere and doesn't know when he is. The visual clues would've been far more interesting, but instead he has to go find some clothes and food. Yeah, after about the third time, it got old and it was fairly void of action too. Meaning: pointless. But that's only half of it. Henry and Clare have exactly the same voice. I had to check back a few times to see whose section it was. There are two POVs. It is written in first person. The switch should be obvious. Both were hipsters with no distinguishing features POV-wise.

As characters go, I feel like Henry was the most developed. His past is colorful and interesting, and it's easy to see how time traveling has shaped him over the course of time, and how meeting Clare gave him a reason to live. Clare, on the other hand, feels like a fairytale rich girl (reader: please insert self here into wish-fulfillment novel). We're introduced to a host of minor characters in the present, all of whom are one-dimensional. The lack of plot makes the middle of the book fairly pointless.

Ultimately, the fixed-future paradigm diffuses most of the tension. Everything works out because Henry knows it does and sometimes he tells Clare and she loves him and they have sex and all is well. Did I mention there's no plot? Or action? It works as a weak romance but not much more. Nothing profound happens, a shame because this could've been wickedly smart story. Instead...Boy-meets-girl. Life happens. The end.
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on October 11, 2016
I love this movie. Heard the book was even better. I bought this for my elderly mother who did not want to read it because when the main character would move in time he would end up nude. ?? It is non sexual but she somehow found it offensive. It is not done in that way at all so I don't understand why she was uncomfortable with it. He would instantly cover up. ???
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VINE VOICEon January 26, 2007
I enjoyed reading "The Time Traveler's Wife," but kept wanting it to draw me in a little more. Instead, it keeps you at arms' length.

Readers of literary fiction will probably enjoy it. It's a well-written novel -- beautifully crafted and plotted, as well.

But honestly, I didn't really like the characters. In a story like this, that's truly epic in scope, the emotions could be really powerful, the characters our way into the story.

Instead, I ultimately felt very little for either Henry the time traveler or Clare his wife. We learn so little about them and are told lots of things we never quite see (like how much they love each other, etc). Clare is beautiful (we hear it over and over again as well), but we never get a sense of much more about her as a person than that. We know even less about Henry. The people just don't feel as vibrant, or lovable, or alive, as they might.

Ultimately, their lives didn't feel quite real to me -- we are told Clare is an artist, but we never get a sense of what she creates, or why she is an artist, or of what Henry thinks of her art. Their friends are really unpleasant characters, for the most part, who just seem present because the story requires it. When Clare suddenly wants a child, instead of adding dimension or warmth to her rather chilly character, it just makes her more unlikeable than ever.

I guess I'd say I liked the plot, but didn't like the characters. And the plot kept me going even when the characters irritated or bored me. The plot keeps the pages turning all the way to the end -- you definitely do want to keep reading.

It's a good book, ultimately, and the time travel element -- as well as the matter-of-fact way the author treats Henry's malaise -- is fascinating. But it's almost like a writing exercise -- a good story, but a little cold, a little distant.

I did like the book -- I just didn't love it.
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on December 27, 2009
Niffenegger delivers an intriguing take on our fascination with the possibility of traveling through time. All such tales, including `Terminator' and `The Time Machine' are propelled by love. This story takes that theme many steps further. It is a fantasy that requires the reader to park all logic and understanding of physics and just go with the love story. The prologue is setup perfectly to show how life will be with Clare and Henry: she stands forever in the present, he moves uncontrollably from the present to the past and future, including into Clare's. It is in Clare's past (then present) that Henry first meets her at age six. At the time, he's thirty-something. This is where things could have become tricky; but, Niffenegger handles this relationship so deftly that Henry is never viewed as predatory. For this reviewer, putting Henry (in his present) in the same time and place with himself (from another time) interrupted the plot. Okay, chrono-displacement caused the splitting and doubling, but I still don't get it. This is a small thing given how the other features of Henry's "gift" are made to seem plausible. Further, by linking literary and musical references to specific times and places, the writer deepens the reader's understanding of all the characters. And, Clare's papermaking artistry may be intended as metaphor; but, it delivers an art lesson that stands on its own. This lesson and other points in this very good story would have benefited from fewer words, fewer pages.
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on May 1, 2017
Loved this story, can't wait for the sequel. The images from the book stayed in my mind, and as I moved through the story I could not put it down. Compelling and very dear love story amid the problems of the practicality of popping through time unexpectedly.
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on November 29, 2006
Audrey Niffenegger has taken Jack Finney's "Time and Again" and enhanced it with David Jerrold's "The Man Who Folded Himself" to create something that I believe is totally new. In literature this is a rare achievement, and Niffenegger must be given credit and recognition for original thought.

Her central character is a time traveler as a result of a genetic disorder. The reader must not look for science in her plot: time travel is just a vehicle to explore human emotions and motivations beyond anything in human experience. Suspension of disbelief comes with extraordinary language and tangible emotion rather than a plausible scientific explanation.

"The Time Traveler's Wife" is essentially a love story that tests love and dedication beyond anything from Shakespeare. Worlds are created and remade constantly, almost dizzyingly, as the central character flips between past, present and future, bringing with him bitterness and joy and damnable foreknowledge, and an absolute determination to preserve free will. Time travel without bifurcating universes would preclude free will, so Niffenegger turns this paradox into deeply moving emotions. The reader knows what is inevitable but keeps searching between the lines for salvation.

The book is disorienting at first, and many will put it down, but the story does come together to become manageable in the mind and is very worthy of a re-read once the structure is understood. I was constantly astounded by Niffenegger's skill: her ability to maintain continuity in a very, very complex intersection of timelines and dates, and to do all of this in first-person recollections using beautiful language that seems natural and organic. Matheson's "Bid Time Return" (Somewhere in Time) generated similar emotions, but Niffenegger takes it so much further. Stick with this book. It is truly unique.
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on February 22, 2010
someone saw me reading this the other day, checked out the back cover and assumed it was some sappy romance novel. true, it is a story of love, but it is also so much more. niffenegger artfully addresses time travel, life and loss, hope and patience, while melding art and literature with the lives of her characters in such a way that i couldn't help but appreciate what she had done. it definitely puts life and love into a new perspective, one that is worth pondering over. the beauty of the story lies in the characters and the truth that we can find in them. unfortunately, as character building stories go, there were some lulls in the storyline. i had a hard time pushing through the first 200 pages, but flew through the next 200. the story itself was an interesting one, about henry detambles involuntary time travel to his own, and his wife clares, past and future. it is a difficult concept to grasp at first and requires a little sorting out of dates and people, but is a beautifully written account of such a complex subject.

i had a time travel dream last night, so i know that there was some level of impact on me. definitely a book i would recommend for you patient readers who love a rewarding experience through words.
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