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The Time Traveler's Wife: A Book Review

Updated on July 16, 2016

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Some people call it fate. A tragedy. An enduring love story that love knows no boundaries even between time and space.

The novel The Time Traveler's Wife is pretty much a clever and unconventional story of a man named Henry with a very rare genetic disorder known as Chrono-Displacement Disorder that cause him to involuntarily travel in time who drops in and out of various moments in his life -- sometimes back to the past, sometimes forward to the future. His wife Claire has to suffer the sadness of his absences as well as the danger in many of his journey. It is written by Audrey Niffenegger as a debut novel that became a national bestseller in 2003.

Why is love intensified by absence?

Book Description

From the Publisher's Weekly...

This clever and inventive tale works on three levels: as an intriguing science fiction concept, a realistic character study and a touching love story. Henry De Tamble is a Chicago librarian with "Chrono Displacement" disorder; at random times, he suddenly disappears without warning and finds himself in the past or future, usually at a time or place of importance in his life. This leads to some wonderful paradoxes. From his point of view, he first met his wife, Clare, when he was 28 and she was 20. She ran up to him exclaiming that she'd known him all her life. He, however, had never seen her before. But when he reaches his 40s, already married to Clare, he suddenly finds himself time travelling to Clare's childhood and meeting her as a 6-year-old. The book alternates between Henry and Clare's points of view, and so does the narration. Reed ably expresses the longing of the one always left behind, the frustrations of their unusual lifestyle, and above all, her overriding love for Henry. Likewise, Burns evokes the fear of a man who never knows where or when he'll turn up, and his gratitude at having Clare, whose love is his anchor. The expressive, evocative performances of both actors convey the protagonists' intense relationship, their personal quirks and their reminiscences, making this a fascinating book.

Listen to the The Time Traveler's Audio Book

The Time Traveler's Wife
The Time Traveler's Wife

Product Description:

This bestselling and innovative debut novel from Audrey Niffenegger explores the perfect marriage, one that is tested by challenges the couple can neither control nor predict. An imaginative extension of everyday life, the story asks: What if two people who loved each other deeply, married, and faced a life in which one person remained constant while the other slipped fluidly in and out of time?

A modern love story with a twist that invites us to linger over questions of how life and love change over time.


Have you read the book? - Write a review, add a comment, or debate someone who disagrees with you.

What did you think of Audrey Niffenegger's novel?

Audrey Niffenegger (born June 13, 1963 in South Haven, Michigan) is an American writer and artist. She is also a professor in the Interdisciplinary Book Arts MFA Program at the Columbia College Chicago Center for Book and Paper Arts. She is the founding member of T3 or Text 3, an artist and writer's group that also performs and exhibits in Chicago.

Niffenegger's debut novel, The Time Traveler's Wife (2003), was a national bestseller. The Time Traveler's Wife is an unconventional love story that centers on a man with a strange genetic disorder that causes him to unpredictably time-travel and his wife, an artist, who has to cope with his frequent and unpredictable absences. The film version, starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams, is due for release in 2009.

She has also written a graphic novel, or "novel in pictures" as Niffenegger calls it, called The Three Incestuous Sisters. This book tells the story of three unusual sisters who live in a seaside house. Because of the artwork and mood, the book has been compared to the work of Edward Gorey.(read more Wikipedia)

Sample Artwork by Audrey Niffenegger

Sample Artwork by Audrey Niffenegger
Sample Artwork by Audrey Niffenegger

Book Reviews for The Time Traveler's Wife - by Audrey Niffenegger

See what others are saying about Audrey Niffenegger's book.

Excerpt from the novel The Time Traveler's Wife

As she put it, she got the title first and played around with it for quite a long time, slowly evolving the characters in her head. She wrote the end before anything else, and then began to write scenes as they occurred to her.

It's hard being left behind. I wait for Henry, not knowing where he is, wondering if he's okay. It's hard to be the one who stays.

I keep myself busy. Time goes faster that way.

I go to sleep alone, and wake up alone. I take walks. I work until I'm tired. I watch the wind play with the trash that's been under the snow all winter. Everything seems simple until you think about it. Why is love intensified by absence?

Long ago, men went to sea, and women waited for them, standing on the edge of the water, scanning the horizon for the tiny ship. Now I wait for Henry. He vanishes unwillingly, without warning. I wait for him.

Each moment that I wait feels like a year, an eternity. Each moment is as slow and transparent as glass.

Through each moment I can see infinite moments lined up, waiting.

Why has he gone where I cannot follow?

-Clare (Prologue)

How does it feel? How does it feel?

Sometimes it feels as though your attention has wandered for just an instant. Then, with a start, you realize that the book you were holding, the red plaid cotton shirt with white buttons, the favorite black jeans and the maroon socks with an almost-hole in one heel, the living room, the about-to-whistle tea kettle in the kitchen: all of these have vanished.

You are standing, naked as a jaybird, up to your ankles in ice water in a ditch along an unidentified rural route. You wait a minute to see if maybe you will just snap right back to your book, your apartment, et cetera.

After about five minutes of swearing and shivering and hoping to hell you can just disappear, you start walking in any direction, which will eventually yield a farmhouse, where you have the option of stealing or explaining. Stealing will sometimes land you in jail, but explaining is more tedious and time consuming and involves lying anyway, and also sometimes results in being hauled off to jail, so what the hell.

-Henry (Prologue)

The Time Traveler's Wife Movie 2008

The Official Movie Poster

The Official Movie Poster
The Official Movie Poster

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Other Books By Audrey Niffenegger on Amazon

Eric Bana as Henry DeTamble & Rachel McAdams as Clare Abshire (in the The Time Traveler's Wife Film)

Eric Bana as Henry DeTamble & Rachel McAdams as Clare Abshire (in the The Time Traveler's Wife Film)
Eric Bana as Henry DeTamble & Rachel McAdams as Clare Abshire (in the The Time Traveler's Wife Film)

The Time Traveler's Wife by Naiza Oclares is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at

Reader's Feedback! - Tell us what you think...

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    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 

      5 years ago from Vermont

      I haven't read this book or seen the film, but your review has piqued my interest. Thank you for suggesting this page as a Purple Star Pastiche award winner.

    • MJ Martin profile image

      MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose 

      6 years ago from Washington State

      Wow, I think I have seen the movie, thanks for including information about that. Totally awesome lens, I might add. I love all your detail, thanks!

    • natashaely profile image


      6 years ago

      A really personal review as I have said before. I have recommended this to a lot of my friends and now added it to my online squidoo library. Impressive page.

    • Millionairemomma profile image


      6 years ago

      Your intro was great! I really got into the movie!

    • juliemd profile image


      6 years ago

      Although it's been out for some time now, I have not yet seen the movie, sometimes they can be a disappointment. Thanks for putting the trailer up, I just might watch

    • franstan lm profile image

      franstan lm 

      7 years ago

      Blessed by a Squid Angel

    • anaamhussain profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens :) good job!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I really like how you set up this lens :) It's really cool. I loved the book and now it has an awesome lens to go with it :)

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 

      7 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Blessed by an angel on the Memorial Day bus trip!

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 

      7 years ago

      I'm just one of those people who could never get into this book. Nevertheless a great review here.

    • natashaely profile image


      7 years ago

      I read the book and it is worth every bit of hype that it had. I have not seen the film but I am sure that they made a good job of it. It is a thought provoking, heartrendering tale of love and relationships and yet so much more. Could not put it down, emotion at it's best. This is one of the books up for discussion in th reading group in March so i have added a link directly to it. Loved the lens, enjoyed reading it, well put together and a fab subject! :)

    • jlshernandez profile image


      7 years ago

      I saw the movie but did not read the book. Entertaining movie but seems to flit back and forth too much. Great lens.

    • Laddoo LM profile image

      Lloyd Pinto 

      8 years ago from Mumbai

      You've got me interested Naiza. I had heard about the movie but missed it. I think I'll read the book instead, always preferred books to movies based on books!!

    • toriphile81 profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lense!

    • cyberpunkdreams1 profile image


      8 years ago

      Excellent detailed review, with lots of good material. I've not yet read the book or seen the film, but I'm tempted now. Thanks!

    • sciencefictionn profile image


      8 years ago

      A moving book that make reflect about human relationships and the very essence of human life. 5*

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great book, and this is a great lens too! I saw an interesting blog post about it recently (you can see it at ) I'm glad that the movie actually did justice to the book!

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 

      9 years ago

      Nice review. I love this book!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 

      9 years ago from Royalton

      Wonderful recommendation. I will add it to my books to read.

      Have you added it to It's a good site for backlinks to your book review lenses.

      Congratulations on the Purple Star Award!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      With the movie coming out I was curious what the story was. I think I would rather read the book, Hollywood has such a history of ruining good books.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 

      9 years ago from Canada

      Nicely done; blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • GreenEcoBean profile image


      9 years ago

      I want to read this now. If anyone can sell this book it is u- you should get royalties. Awesome lens!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens, I like the way you bring out the book, it really make you want to read it. I gave a rate of 4**, mind checking out my lens on Safari Travel and give your comments

    • JenOfChicago LM profile image

      JenOfChicago LM 

      9 years ago

      Great lens! Lensrolled you to my lens about books set in Chicago.

    • mrsm54321 profile image


      9 years ago

      I haven't read this book yet but I would really like to! It sounds like a really interesting read and it's been recommended to me loads of times. I didn't know that a film had been made about it though.

      If you like books about time travel check out my lens about the Outlander series -


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