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Book Review: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Updated on September 23, 2009

Wait, you mean the movie?

As I'm sure you've noticed, they've made the novel The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger into a movie. I actually came across this book on one of those "100 Classic Books You Need to Read" lists. And as I'm a freelancer with too much free time on my hands, I decided it's time for me to read all the books on said list. The Time Traveler's Wife immediately caught my attention when I read the summary online, and I actually read the whole thing before the movie came out.

Whether you've seen the movie or not, I wanted to provide my review of the book, so you can decide whether it's for you or not. I've been too afraid to see the movie because all my friends who have read the book said the movie wasn't as good. So even if you've seen the movie, don't discount the book reading experience yet.

The Time Traveler's Wife takes place all throughout time, as is obvious from the title. Just the format of the book alone sucks you in, because it's so darn creative. The book is broken up into short sections, and you're told in each section what the date is, how old the main characters Henry and Claire are, and if applicable...what date Henry the time traveling character is coming from. Confused yet?

It does take a little more thinking than most novels to understand what's going on in this book. But once you get it, it's an amazingly fun read--more fun than your average novel. You're essentially hopping around all throughout Henry and Claire's lives, like a movie being shown out of sequence, yet you know that time keeps going forward sequentially. Especially if you're into sci-fi concepts like time traveling, I'm certain you'll enjoy the ride this book offers.

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The Plot

Not that you can't get a synopsis of this book from a gazillion websites, but I'll give you my brief interpretation.

Henry is a normal human, aside from the fact that he isn't physically able to keep himself in today's world. He time travels, at any time, to any place, and he can't control it at all. Claire, who we first meet as a little girl, is often the recipient of Henry's time travels- he time travels many many times to the field outside her parent's beautiful colonial home throughout her childhood. She quickly becomes enamored with him.

During these times, Claire is a girl and Henry is coming from the far future, where he's usually in his late 30s or 40s. He tells Claire they will meet in Claire's present, when Claire is in her 20s. When they do, Henry in his present, in his late 20s, has never met Claire yet (he first time travels to her when she's a child, but he's coming from a time when he's in his 30s...I know, confusing right?). But Claire has known Henry her whole life.

Once Claire and Henry meet in both their present times, they start a relationship and Claire gets to see what it's really like to be with Henry. When he time travels, he disappears for days sometimes, and can reappear quite abruptly. It frustrates her and makes her worry often. He always goes where she cannot follow, and she's forced to sit at home alone, hoping he's okay, "whenever" he is.

They try to do normal couple activities, like throw dinner parties, get married, have children...but the results are quite abnormal most of the time. As they both go through time, albeit somewhat differently, they continue to love each other and stay together.

As the back of the book says, "Henry and Claire's passionate affair endures across a sea of time and captures them in an impossibly romantic trip that tests the strength of fate and basks in the bonds of love." Awwww.

Final Thoughts

This book is truly fascinating and deserves to be on Top Whatever lists. Anyone who enjoys a creatively written novel will like this book. It's not your ordinary novel, and that's why I like it. Once you get the hang of how it's written, it sucks you in and you're unable to put it down. I read it in a few days, despite having all my freelancing work to do.

There were only two things in this book that I disliked a bit. First, there's a lot of getting it on (if you catch my drift), all throughout the novel. Like more than necessary. I thought all the descriptions of said activities were a tad excessive. The other was that the pages detailing Claire and Henry's attempts to have a baby are kind of tedious...I think the whole section could have been cut in half and we'd still get the same idea. So, read those pages quickly if you have the same thought!

The Time Traveler's Wife is a great reading experience. So go read the book! The book is always better than the movie anyway.

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    • Reannon profile image

      Reannon 7 years ago

      That was one of my favorite books! So well written. And although it's a love story, I'd recommend it for men as well. There's enough Sci-Fi and action with the time-traveling to keep them interested.

      I haven't seen the movie either...I love Rachel McAdams though so I might go see it.