Sunday, 8 May 2016

'The Time Traveler's Wife', by Audrey Niffenegger

Title: The Time Traveler's Wife
Author(s): Audrey Niffenegger
Release Date: 2003
Publisher: Vintage
Genre: Romance
Source: Bought


Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, have known each other since Clare was 6 and Henry was 36, married when Clare 23 and Henry 31. Impossible but true. Because Henry unintentionally jumps in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity, past and future. His experiences can be harrowing or amusing.


 Do you know how people often describe a romance as being a 'timeless' love story?

Well, this one is. Literally!

Clare meets Henry when she is 6 years old and he's 36, but Henry only meets Clare when he's 28 and she's 20. Confusing? Maybe, but that is the disadvantage of having the 'illness' that Henry does not know how to cure; he time travels without his free will ever having a part to play into where and when he goes. It is something that he cannot avoid, that brings him countless problems (more than the ones he himself can imagine), but at the same time it is what saved his life as a child and gave him the opportunity to meet the love of his life.

My first impression of this book was how unnecessarily large it looked. I was going into the reading having already seen the film adaptation and knowing that it was still a romance at its core, and looking at the size of the book, I was dreading a lot of filler. Having loved the premise from the film I tried to not let that affect my reading experience, and I was definitely proved wrong in my assumptions.
The book is, in fact, very descriptive, but the complexity of the story (something that did not transpose in its entirety to the film) demands it. However, that descriptive aspect at no point becomes boring, and it ever only increases a reader's curiosity and will to keep reading and learn more about the lives of these people. The story begins at the moment when Henry meets Clare and gets to know that this woman that he has never seen before in his life has known his since she was a child. From this first encounter from his side there is a flashback to Clare's childhood, and we start getting to know Henry along with her (with some moments from their future in between) until we catch up with them in their present, and from then on we follow their relationship and all its ups and downs.

It's interesting trying to fit the moments in which Henry visits Clare as a child that we see in the beginning of the book with the times in which he disappears from adult Clare's life to go on those 'trips'. Sometimes keeping up with all the overlaps requires a lot of memory work, but that is what makes the reading of this book so engrossing; you find yourself drinking in every single detail in the hope that it will be relevant later, in order to not miss any of the wonderful connections in their love story.

The writing style is amazing, and I found myself with an incredible amount of admiration for the author as she managed to write such an unique story in such a brilliant way. It's not for everyone to be able to keep up with all these dates and not mix them up, and to organize life events of so many different characters through all the time slips that occur. The fact that each chapter begins with both Henry's and Clare's age in that particular moment is incredibly helpful, but that is not the only way in which this story is organized and it's the little clues scattered throughout that really bring it all its value.

As mind bending as this book might be at first (you will probably find yourself, like me, going back time and time again to confirm dates), it is completely worth the challenge of reading it, even through all the descriptions. It is a beautiful love story which will make you think about all the things that people usually take for granted in relationships. A must read!

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