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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: Unabridged Edition
The Time Traveler's Wife: Unabridged Edition

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?

Love it! Great read.

Love it! Great read.

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    • MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose 5 years ago from Washington State

      I love your review of it, haven't read it yet, but certainly will now. It will give me some fresh ideas for my own time travel lens! It is such an intriguing subject, thanks for a great review!

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      I loved it.

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      this is my cup of tea!

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      I love this book, oh my god! amazing READ IT! DON'T JUST SIT THERE READ IT!! :)

    • juliemd 5 years ago

      I enjoyed this book. I thought it was great as it went back and forth in time - keeping the reader thinking and reading on! Well done.

    • virtualboy 5 years ago

      awesome and congrats on your purple star

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      A bit confusing at first, but it grew on to me, and I fell in love with this book.

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      It's chrono-displacement. Not chronic displacement. If you're going to write a book review, get you facts straight. Also it's journeys, plural.

    • anaamhussain 6 years ago

      I totally completely loved it! The emotions were so clearly graspable! I mean it was as if I got absorbed into the pages of the story!

    • Marilou4241 6 years ago

      I totally loved it! I read it within like three days. It had some sad parts but it made up with happy moments. I think it's a must read :)

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      I have just read the first chapter and i already find it exhaustive! hope it gets better! :(

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      i absolutely loved the book... it made me want to be a time traveler. double thumbs up...!!!

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      I loved it. It's totally different from any romance or any book on time-travel I've ever read, yet it succeeds on both levels. It's hard to describe the impact of this story--I'd have to go with "shattering", yet it's a book I wouldn't want to have missed.

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      I thought it was great. The untraditional twist on the tradititonal love story gave it a really interesting storyline. It definitely has a plot!!! Its all about the couple battling through Henry's condition. How could you not finish it? You have to see if they make it out together in the end. If it was your husband would you simply give up on him?!

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      i like it !!ca't just simply say i love it !! i guess that would be a LIE

      just 'cause i still didn't reach the first half YET !!

      although i kinda understad the headlines !! but not all the details !!]

      i like the plot just not as expected !! to be honest i had higher expectations !!

      PRETTY GOOD BOOK THOUGH !! :) do not hesitate to read it !! ;p

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      great book! it drags on and on can be quite annoying sometimes but the story is simply amazing. i love the details that are actually meaningful in this novel <3

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      i could say, it was really excellent!!! favorite novel of all time.

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      It's unforgettable...deinitely the best...

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      it was amazing...nd it doesn't not even have tha f bomb in it on erry page stop over exzagerating....(can't spell) but it is the best book i have read in a while...... you should pick it up nd start reading again don't give up

    • toriphile81 6 years ago

      One of my favorites, I've reread it several times

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      i love this book. its a perfect mix of romance and sci-fi. its wonderful. i can not stop reading it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      very great book one i have not read in my lifetime that is fifteen years. one of the best romances

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      i like the concept of the story. Yet i wont recommend this one for young readers.

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      I can honestly say, having read the Dutch version only, one of THE best books ever! I loved every page of it, I just could notput it down. I've read THE book about a year ago and I'm planning to read THE origianal (Englisch version) next!

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      this book is by far my favourite novel i've read. i finished it within days, and throughout that time, i could barely put it down. i'm young - i'm a mere fourteen year old - so i haven't tackled many books yet, but this is sheer brilliance. after reading this, i was inspired to write a novel of my own.

    • anonymous 7 years ago


    • anonymous 7 years ago

      I read the book, and good God, it was great. I also watched the movie while I was almost done with the book. If you haven't read it, I definately suggest that you read it right away. And of course the movie too, I will warn you, you might cry, so keep a box of tissues near :)

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      i personally think that it is the best book i've read in my whole 14 year old life! I would describe myself as a very picky reader, and i don't even read that much, but I never even wanted to put this book down! It's so realistic and true to life, I think that's what's so wonderful about it. The characters are unique and....funny. I mean, parts of it area sad, but that's how life is.

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      This Book Is One Of The Best Books I've Read,

      Its Amaizng, You Can Feel What There Feelin & You Need To Cry,

      I've Enjoyed This So Much And Am Soooo Looking Forward To The Film,

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      i am actually shocked about the negative comments on this book! i will agree that there is no specific plot and can be pointless at times but it doesnt matter because it is so well written and you get so caught up in it that it is hard to put down (ok well thats how i found it) it really is a great book and will be reading it again in the future - altough i would like to say thanks to those with negative comments as i am writing a review on it and it really helps to have other view points

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      Sadly I'm not much further along than I was last time I posted... I'm kinda stuck right now. I'm in a boring spot and I'm having trouble making myself read through it. It just seems like the longer it takes me to finish the book though, the less I want to finish it. I just got done reading about the wedding, and it seems like a really good place for the book to end, not keep going. It just seems like there's no real plot going on though... just like Henry keeps time traveling randomly. It's like, we already know what there is to know.. what's next? I feel like everything was leading up to the wedding. I'm just really wanting to end the note on a positive note, because I want to love the book, but it's making it kind of hard.

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      It's a really good book. But hard when it comes to writing an essay on, very hard to explain!

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      I'm a little over halfway done reading the book, and so far I really like it. It has a unique story line. I really wanted to see the movie, but I decided to read the book first. Even though it's a cute book, and I'm enjoying it, at times it's boring and hard to pick up and make myself read. It's also confusing at times and I have to find myself going back to the beginning of the chapter to check the date and see what day, month, year that part of the story is from, because the book doesn't go in chronological order. It jumps around. I'm kind of wondering what could possibly happen in the last half of the book, but I'm going to stick with it, and hopefully it turns out to be a great book and worth the read. =]

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      Well, I'm not done reading it yet. I'm actually only about halfway done reading it. Page 256 right now. So far I'm liking the book. I'm not totally in love with it, because at times it's boring... not to mention confusing. I find myself having to go back to the beginning of chapters just to check the date and see how old Clare and Henry are. I'm really starting to wonder what could possibly happen in the last half of the book since so much has happened already. However, the book is cute, and it's a really unique story that seems to keep pulling out surprises, so I'm going to stick with it. Hopefully when I get to the end of the book , it'll have been a great read... and hopefully the movie doesn't disappoint, either. =]

    • KarenTBTEN 7 years ago

      I considered it an extraordinary read, and saw in it so much metaphor and meaning. There aren't real life time travelers, but there are people who may seem like time travelers for one reason or another. If a person is dissociative, they may appear to be radically different ages from one moment to the next. I have experienced that feeling of being left behind not once but again and again, and that's what gripped me from the book's opening. Now I am thinking about writing about it -- but it's a topic I'd have to handle very, very carefully.

    • TrishH LM 7 years ago

      This book was amazing. I loved it and will read it again in the future.

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      amazing. the beginning is hard to understand but when you get into clare's future its much easier to understnad

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      I love it

    • tandemonimom lm 7 years ago

      I loved this book! I've read it at least twice.

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      Love the review! Read my thoughts if you have a minute,

    • Treasures By Brenda 7 years ago from Canada

      'Twas a while ago that I read it but I quite enjoyed it.

    • anonymous 8 years ago

      One of the best!

    Sorry, not my cup of tea.

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      • Millionairemomma 5 years ago

        The book is confusing to me but loved the movie.

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        this book is messed up and has the wrong choice of language features love it how it's a sad ending though, most romance aren't

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        Holy god this thing would have been better as a short story. Just finished it, and I have to say the damn thing could have been 150 pages and it would have flowed much better. Many scenes just dragged on forever, and many others were rather pointless to the overall plot, feeling, and character of the book. Not terribly written, but I would often skim until I found an interesting chapter, which occurred fewer and fewer times as the book dragged on.

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        This book sucked! What's with the whole Clare as a kid meeting Mr Creepy in the woods. I found it unsettling and weird of the get go. And worse it was trite and boring.

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        Far too long; cannot understand all the hype; I trudged through it with great relunctance and was disappointed! Some comical bits dotted throughout!

      • anonymous 7 years ago

        I quit reading it halfway through today. It says the f-word almost every page and I could not stand it.

      • anonymous 7 years ago

        I am halfway through the book and almost feel like giving up except that my best friend advised me it's good practice to strive to finish a book no matter how slow the story is. It's taking me weeks and weeks to finish this. I feel that the story is dragging on and there are details that are too lengthy but do not add importance. I will keep reading and hopefully change my mind in the end..when I finally get there!

      • anonymous 7 years ago

        i'm only halfway through it, and there is no plot. it seems more appropriate of a character analysis book. but maybe it'll pick up near the last half. so far the book is WAY too long >.> and drags on and on.

      • anonymous 7 years ago

        I found it totally exasperating. Pointless flitting to and fro through time; as a literary tool the time travelling thing made its point in the first 20 pages or so, and reading the rest of the book was a kind of self-inflicted torture. Far too long.

      • Quirina 7 years ago

        I am sorry, but I find it IS overrated schmaltz, and the book is much longer than necessary... The plot could have been told in a book half as thick. Instead the same pattern of events is repeated over and over again.. Henry disappears, Claire is worried, Henry goes through dangerous adventures, Henry reappears, Claire is relieved, Henry disappears, Claire is worried... I'd say this is a book, but it is not literature.

      • anonymous 7 years ago

        did NOT like it. henry is sex-crazed and i actually question his true love for Claire. Claire relies on Henry to define who she is and her place in the relationship. She is never able to develop her own sense of identity in this way. i do not understand all the positive feedback for this 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 3 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 5 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

          natashaely 5 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

          Millionairemomma 5 years ago

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

        • juliemd profile image

          juliemd 5 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 6 years ago

          Blessed by a Squid Angel

        • anaamhussain profile image

          anaamhussain 6 years ago

          Great lens :) good job!

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          Marilou4241 6 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 :)

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          Jennifer P Tanabe 6 years ago from Red Hook, NY

          Blessed by an angel on the Memorial Day bus trip!

        • Spook LM profile image

          Spook LM 6 years ago

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

        • natashaely profile image

          natashaely 6 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

          jlshernandez 6 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 6 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

          toriphile81 6 years ago

          Great lense!

        • cyberpunkdreams1 profile image

          cyberpunkdreams1 7 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

          sciencefictionn 7 years ago

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

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          lostinfiction 7 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 7 years ago

          Nice review. I love this book!

        • evelynsaenz1 profile image

          Evelyn Saenz 7 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!

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          mitchking 7 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 7 years ago from Canada

          Nicely done; blessed by a SquidAngel.

        • GreenEcoBean profile image

          GreenEcoBean 8 years ago

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

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          diwakat 8 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 8 years ago

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

        • mrsm54321 profile image

          mrsm54321 8 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 -