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The Time Traveler's Wifenovel by Audrey Niffenegger


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#1 Treefrog

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 08:24 AM

Has anybody else read this? The story concerns the relationship between Henry -- the time traveler -- and Clare, his wife. Henry's time travel is almost completely confined to his lifetime. He mostly visits his own past, or things in the past connected with his own life (such as Clare: we learn in the opening chapter that Henry first meets Clare when he is 28, but Clare has known Henry -- an older Henry -- since she was 6). Each chapter/vignette spells out for us the day and year, and tells us how old Henry and/or Clare is. The book is written alternately from his perspective and from hers.

It is a very sweet love story, but more. It is the story of two people who have more than the usual glimpse into how their lives together unfold, yet remain totally unable to control the course of events. Henry's time travel creates an unusual depth to his character, owing to his need to develop such survival skills as lying, speed, lock-picking, and stealing (he has no control over when and where he time travels, and he cannot carry anything with him, so he always arrives naked and without money). Yet, he is fundamentally a very good man. Clare has to learn to deal with the uncertainty of Henry's travel: when will he disappear? How long will he be gone? Will he come back uninjured? Can she depend on him to stay in the present for important events? Throughout, both have to deal with those usual psychological pressures and crises that we all face: marriage, family (past, present, and future), jobs, death.

This is not a book for those who require a straightforward story line. It skips back and forth quite a bit: from the present to the past, from Henry to Clare. It's sometimes a challenge to keep straight who knows what at this particular moment, and how that has shaped them. But that contributes to the richness; the reader is allowed a small glimpse of the confusion that governs Henry and Clare's life. The time traveling aspect is handled brilliantly. The author set her own rules and adhered to them, and after a while it all seems relatively normal.

The ending had me in tears.

#2 vagansmom

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Posted 31 March 2004 - 09:22 PM

Oooh, Treefrog, that book sounds really intriguing. When was it written?

#3 Treefrog

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Posted 31 March 2004 - 09:35 PM

2003 -- the plot spans the time from about 1968 to 2007. One of the bonuses for me is that it takes place in Chicago -- Henry is a librarian at the Newberry Library.

#4 vagansmom

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Posted 16 June 2004 - 06:23 PM

Treefrog, my daughter just finished this novel and turned it over to me. She adored it and had finished all 500+ pages in two days. Occasionally I would hear little squeals of delight and anticipation emanating from her.

I'm about 60 pages into it and, aside from still being at the stage of desperately trying to keep it all straight in my mind, am looking forward to each new bit of info that unfolds about Henry and Clare's relationship.

Thanks for the recommendation.


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