Reviewed by Kristin
I may be way behind the curve on this one, but I just read a bestselling book which came out in 2003: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Perhaps my time displacement is not so out of line, because this novel is all about time. Henry DeTamble is a special collections librarian in Chicago who moves about in time. Ever since Henry was a little boy, he has sudden disruptions in his life when he involuntarily leaps to another time, most often back in his own timeline, often encountering his younger self.
The first time Clare Abshire meets Henry (“first” being a relative term) is when Henry is 36 and Clare is 6. Henry has stumbled into a large meadow in Michigan in the fall of 1977, but fortunately it’s a nice day, because Henry is not able to bring anything with him as he travels—not even clothing. A naked adult man popping out of nowhere? That might be a bit troublesome.
Clare soon learns to expect that Henry may show up in her meadow, so she leaves her father’s cast-off clothing for his convenience. Their friendship develops, although it can be quite confusing when one party or the other is much more aware of events that have taken place, or will take place, or….well, you can see the difficulties that might arise. Clare moves through her life sequentially, as most of us do, but Henry just takes life as it comes, whenever it comes.
As you might have guessed from the title of the book, Henry and Clare do marry when she is of an appropriate age—22 to Henry’s 30.
The timelines may be a complete jumble, but Niffenegger does an excellent job making them clear by beginning each chapter (and sometimes each chapter section) with the current date, time, and Henry and Clare’s current ages. The flow of the narrative is smooth and beautiful, as Henry and Clare find each other at the many stages of their lives.
A movie based on the book came to the big screen in 2009. Again, I found myself behind the curve, but enjoyed watching the DVD soon after finishing the book. Surprisingly, the adaption was lovely. While the movie could not possibly contain everything from the book, it nicely captured most significant parts of the story.
No spoilers, but a quote that hints at the beautiful love story contained within:
“It’s dark, now, and I am very tired. I love you, always. Time is nothing.”