Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Time Traveler's Wife

This is the debut novel of Audrey Niffenegger. This has been adapted as a movie as well. The whole book uses a beautiful alternating first person narration. It’s a story about a couple Henry DeTamble and Clare Abshire. The major theme of the story runs around the chaos and romance caused by the genetic disorder which Henry suffers from, which makes him time travel.


Most of the part of the novel is set in the last 3 decades of 20th century. The major selling point of the novel is the non linear flow of events. The author had a daunting task of making the story make sense to the reader and she succeeded in it. The story also makes references to real life incidents like the 9/11 attacks. In all, it is a love story of a young girl and an adult man and also a love story of a young man and a young lady. The catch being that the male and female were the same in both.


Henry DeTamble suffers from a rare genetic disorder which takes him into an involuntary (sometimes voluntary) time travel. The disorder showed itself up for the first time when he met with an accident in which his mother died. After this he had been time travelling over the years to known and unknown places in known and unknown times. In one of his time travels he meets his future wife in her childhood time. One major roadblock in time travelling was that whenever he time travelled and reached a destination, he would always be naked. So when he met young Clare, he asked her to get clothes for him. She fascinated him so much that he visited her often.

After a brief lull of a couple of years, Clare meets younger Detamble in a natural chronological event. The story keeps on making switches from one time to the other and narration switches from Henry to Clare but the general flow of the story matches Clare’s life.

What follows this is a chaotic love affair between Henry and Clare, marred by complications like abortions, scandals etc.


The author has succeeded in blending two completely different genre, science fiction and romance, in a graceful manner. Her take on time travel actually makes the story devoid of paradoxes which plague time travel theories. Her use of multiple first person narration gives the story two strong characters to delve upon. The story is like two threads entangled all over each other; the chords representing the life of Clare and Henry. By the end of the story, the two threads get disentangled and everything starts making sense. The success of the story lies in its narration style. It is a compelling read.


The book lacks a definite storyline. Initial part of the story is interesting till the point where reader gets to understand the concept but after that the story lacks a definite sense of direction. The love story becomes over frustrating with repeated incidents of abortions and several other things.


To learn more about the rating, refer to this.

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