The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger

timetravelerswife2This past weekend I finished The Time Traveler’s Wife in two days. The saga definitely needs a quiet few days to get through the almost 600 pages. I know I connected with the characters and their romance because I SOBBED through the last 30 pages, so much so that after I finished the last page I sought solace in hubby’s arms as I continued to bawl thinking about it.

Which is weird because I thought I didn’t even LIKE the main characters Clare and Henry. After my tears dried I reflected…and stalled on writing this blog post…and ultimately decided I DID NOT like Clare and Henry, and would not read this book again. The ending may have evoked a strong emotional response from me, but analytically there were more “cons” than “pros” in the story for me.

Number 1 worst possible thing that turned me off by page 57 (its so near the beginning of the book that this is NOT a spoiler I promise):

Henry time travels against his will, like epilepsy, with no control as to where or when he goes. Most of the time he travels to the past and will occasionally run into his past self. When he was a teenagerand time traveled only a few months and hung out with his teenaged self they hooked up.

You read that right, he had sex with himself. SICK! Niffenegger wrote it like it was natural, like they had nothing else to do, were horny teenagers and didn’t have a girlfriend. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I read that scene, so obvi I had to read it out loud for hubby to make sure I wasn’t misunderstanding. Hubby’s response? “That’s why you shouldn’t read romance novels.” And I was all, “Dude this isn’t even a romance novel! This would NEVER happen in one of my happily ever after books!”

So from then on I was sooo squicked out by Henry. Which continued when he time traveled and met his wife  Clare when she was 6 years old. He time traveled back to Clare’s house numerous time throughout her childhood and while it started out platonic eventually when she was a teenager and he was a 40 year old time traveling man it became romantic. Even though he knew he was married to her in the future it still felt skeevy to me.

Another “con” for me. Lots of people know Henry time travels, well like 10, but that seems like a lot! His dad, his neighbor, a few close friends, his doctor and his work colleagues! And NO ONE said anything to the media. He was NEVER OUTED. No special attention. That was so unrealistic to me. Even when people didn’t believe him, or when he was picked up multiple times by the cops, he never got in trouble.

Last complaint: Henry and Clare were too hipster cool for me, quoting literature, going to indie/punk concerts, being all proletariat-artsy-fartsy, it seemed fake…and if it wasn’t fake then they were tools.

Ok for the good stuff: This is the 4th time travel books I read in 2 weeks and the way and reason Henry time travels is awesome, the best out of all 4. So creative, unique and just…cool. Well sort of a curse for him, but so well done. He has a “rare genetic disorder, Chronic Displacement” and the scenes describing how he time travels, what it feels like, what he can and can’t do, and ultimately how doctors/scientists diagnose it were my favorite ones.

How very sci-fi of me, which is surprising. 

I loved how Clare and Henry’s relationship and marriage developed once they met in the “present” time and they were both in their twenties. That’s when I connected the most with their romance, their struggles, and how they created their home and family. Their love seemed tangible to me, and especially with Henry’s special circumstances, it seemed even more powerful, like true soul mates and all that.

So is this a good book? Yes. Did I love it? No, C+ for me. Should you read it? Your call, there are millions of squeeing reviews bowing in adoration out there, so go for it.

For anyone who has read it I have a question slash opinion that is a massive spoiler, check it out after the jump…

Did Clare’s dad and brother KILL HENRY???? So confused about the death scene. Who shot him???

Maybe because I was crying so hard I couldn’t read properly. Sorry library, the last few pages might be a little damp!!! But seriously if they killed him that is soooo f’ed up!!! ARGH. And then to have Clare have sex with Gomez really pissed me off. Hated the ending.

If Niffenegger does write Alba’s story I will probably read it, still hoping for a more happy ending. Even though it’s highly unlikely.


14 Responses

  1. OK, I have a very similar reaction to the book. The whole thing with Henry being 40 and having a relastionship with the all too young Clare was very eeeew to me. Then the ending, I felt SO manipulated emotionally. Yes, i cried like I would dehydrate but ultimately I did not like it.

    and YES to your question. *shudders*

  2. HI ANA! Wow, thanks for visiting! I hate that the answer is “YES” to my question, and totally agree about being manipulated emotionally at the ending.

  3. I LOVED this book.

    although I also was creeped out by the nature of Henry and Clare’s relationship. I mean, especially since Clare in the “present” encouraged him.

    Anyway, my impression was that he’d time-traveled and appeared in front of Clare’s brother and father while they were hunting, and they’d mistaken him as a deer (not quite sure how…) and shot him.

  4. And the author just got a two million dollar advance for her next book. Holy omg.

  5. i saw the $2mill advance thing. did you know she also wrote something called “The Three Incestuous Sisters”? she’s got some issues i think.

    yeah i assumed they thought he was a deer and shot him, but my mind couldn’t wrap around that. it was TOO MUCH so i didn’t believe it. i mean he was naked and had amputated feet. not very deer like.

  6. Lusty:

    I sort of had the impression that they were out, he suddenly appeared, and the brother saw him out of the corner of the eye, figured it was a deer, swiveled, fired, realized he’d shot a person. Y’know, one of those: “Why the fuck wasn’t he wearing an orange vest?” deals. Then he vanished when they were waiting for an ambulance.

  7. That book totally drove me crazy. Agree on the out of control tears and the terrible ending. It really tore me up. I haven’t been able to read other time travel books because of it!

  8. KPD: while im not “glad” we both had out of control tears, im glad im not alone in my reaction! i am going to be taking a break from time travel books for the near future for sure…

  9. I liked the book. The part about Henry’s feet getting amputated seriously freaked me the hell out though. I could barely stand to read that part. I think the dad and brother did kill Henry and I thought that was so weird and out of the blue. I really just think she could have figured out a better way to kill him if that is what she wanted.

  10. […] me, RANDUM83) I’m a slacker. I haven’t written any reviews of my April books (except TTW), I’ve just been reading too much to write! I will change that soon, I […]

  11. I interpreted the scene with the two teenage Henry’s together in the bedroom as they were jacking off together. Not having sex. Still gross, but teenage boy stuff.

    I can not figure out his death. There was a point when Clare woke up to him calling her name and she went outside and saw him with her Dad and brother. I have been trying to page through the book to find that again, but lack of chronological order makes it almost impossible. Did they accidentally kill him or murder him?

  12. Agree- with Mandy about the teen boy thing. About his death, They were hunting and Henry suddenly appeared in the bushes. Without actually seeing him, they assumed all the rustling was a deer and shot at him based on the assumption. Then when he cried out and disappeared they were perplexed.

  13. Oh, but what was up with Claire having sex with gomez at the end- disturbing and sick! Why? Cheat on Henry and Charrise! And she did it to get close to Henry? So confused. What the heck did she mean when she said “I’m the traveler now.”??

  14. “Oh, but what was up with Claire having sex with gomez at the end- disturbing and sick! Why? Cheat on Henry and Charrise! And she did it to get close to Henry? So confused. What the heck did she mean when she said “I’m the traveler now.”??”
    Gomez was the only one being unfaithful as a lover, Henry had died. I think she missed having Henry, also it could be payback like the first time she and Gomez hooked up: because Henry was somewhere in some other time and he never was able to visit her(until she was old). And he was(at least a couple of times) seeing their daughter.

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