The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger, deals with the trials and tribulations of Henry DeTamble, a man who involuntary travels through time and how his wife, Clare, deals with his strange disorder as she meets him periodically through her young life, and then struggles with the danger and unpredictability that comes with being married to a time traveler.
Niffenegger wrote the novel through the eyes of both Clare and Henry, taking place in the past, present and occasionally future as it tells the story of their lives together. Due to Henry’s time traveling, Clare had known the adult Henry her entire life, before they finally met in the present and got married. The book follows the couple’s lives as they struggle to have a child and live a normal life, and as Clare learns to cope with having a husband who disappears periodically and is in danger whenever he is away.
As the years roll on, Henry, who has never met his future self older than forty-three years old, learns tragic secrets about the future through time travel. He struggles with the ideas of God and free will as he often tries and fails to prevent horrible occurrences that he knows will happen. As the book progresses, Henry learns more about the genetic disorder that has plagued him his whole life and learns more about the future from his older selves.
Clare, in the meantime, fights to have a baby as she deals with miscarriages resulting from the fetus time traveling out of her womb, and she works to keep her beloved husband with her and out of danger. The time traveling poses many serious problems for the couple, and the novel ends with a bang, which will not soon be forgotten.
This love story with a twist is a must-read for everyone – hopeless romantics, thrill seekers, science fiction lovers, and those who enjoy a good cry. Niffenegger covers all the bases in her wonderfully written first novel.
Although the book is somewhat hard to follow in the beginning as it jumps around in time, the reader soon acquires a feel for where each character is chronologically and the story becomes much easier to follow. The characters’ emotions are realistic, and the reader can relate to both Henry and Clare’s plights, even in such an unrealistic situation as time travel.
Along with providing a fascinating story line, with a satisfying ending, Niffenegger offers the reader ideas to ponder about free will. She asks that if the future has already happened to Henry, does anyone really have any choices in their lives? It is a question that Henry and Clare struggle with throughout the novel, and the reader will continue to ponder such ideas long after they put down the book.
The Time Traveler’s Wife is a thought-provoking, twisted love story that anyone who appreciates good fiction should read.