Wednesday, 6 May 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife

I have been wanting to read this book for the better part of two years now, but haven't allowed myself until I was free from reading the many, many, many course books for uni. Over easter, however, I finally took the plunge. And I think it quite possibly shot it's way up the list to definitely being one of my favorite books of all time - with all the hype surrounding it I was so pleased that the book itself was not a let down. 

It is Audrey Niffenegger's first novel - I can't wait for more! - following the unique lives of Clare and Henry, a couple destined to be together when that is the one thing they cannot be, as Henry has a genetic condition which causes him to randomly time travel. Niffenegger has cleverly structured the book so that it jumps backwards and forwards in time, exploring memories and giving a slow release of information whilst mirroring what Henry's life is like, as he constantly finds himself in different times too. 

The themes of destiny and fate are explored, as although Henry can travel through time, he cannot change anything from happening unless it has already happened. He meets Clare when she is six, and visits her as a middle aged man throughout her childhood. He does not meet her, however, until he is in his twenties when she finds him in her real time and they are the same age. It takes a while to get your head around sometimes, but that, for me, makes it even better.

The characterisation and description throughout the book are wonderful; the likeablility of the characters makes their difficult situation even more heartbreaking, along with the fact that they simply couldn't be with anyone else. 

Niffenegger's references to music and art enrich the writing and give the different times a sense of authenticity - Henry is young and wild, and often gets to relive, the time in Chicago at the time of the New York Dolls and The Talking Heads, when punk was truly alive. 

The significance of the book's title does not really come into focus until the end. Although narration is split between Henry and Clare, as a reader the interest tends to fall on Henry - he is the one who is 'special', who experiences the extraordinary, who encounters danger. Clare is just normal, who stays at home, waiting for him. As a time traveler's wife, though, that seems to be all one can do, and the realisation of this, for Clare and the reader, is heartbreaking.

As with any popular book at the moment, there is going to be a film released soon. I suppose my curiosity is going to force me to see it, but already I am a little sceptical. Firstly, because the leading roles of Clare and Henry are going to be played by Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana - both perfectly fine actors - but I always had someone resembling Cate Blanchett in my head when I was reading it, so already she doesn't look right! And how can 'The Hulk' be Henry?! But anyway, I shouldn't dismiss it before I've seen it, so I shall just wait patiently, and hope that the director has done justice to this wonderful book.

The Time Traveler's Wife - 5/5

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