Monday, October 15, 2007

The Time Traveler's Wife

This review is also posted here.

I was staring at my pile of books for the "Something About Me" Reading Challenge and wondering what I should read next. I decided to go with The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, since I had been enjoying the new TV series "Journeyman" and had really liked "Quantum Leap" as well. It was a great choice! The book was absolutely WONDERFUL!!

The novel is about Henry and Clare. Henry, from time to time, and completely outside of his control, "jumps" to another time period in his life or Clare's. Clare meets him when she is six and he is thirty-six, but he doesn't meet her until she is twenty, which is when he is twenty-eight. So when they meet in Henry's "real" time, she knows him very well, yet he doesn't know her at all. I can't talk about this novel in my usual way of what I liked and what I didn't like, because this isn't so much a story with a beginning, middle and end (except from Clare's point of view), as it is a story in which everything takes place simultaneously. So to talk about any particular happening in the story is to possibly give something away, even though for much of the book, the reader knows what is coming, because it already happened from someone's point of view. The only question is from whose point of view and at which point in time the reader will discover the how and why of whatever it was (s)he knows happens. A bit confusing, no? Besides, there was only one thing I didn't like, and it was something that Clare did that, to me, seemed completely out of character for her. I'll have to leave you to figure out what that is when you read this book. Because you should read this book. It immediately became one of my favorites.

I have always had a fascination with quantum physics/mechanics. That is not to say I understand them much, but I find them absolutely intriguing. I think that is why I can't stop thinking about the novel. I keep trying to compare things that happen to Henry in the novel with what little bit I sort of, kind of, but not really understand about quantum physics. Schrödinger's cat kept coming to mind. In what state was Henry at various times in the book? Was he ten, or was he thirty-two? Was he injured or was he perfectly fine? Was he in this state or in that state at any point in time? Well, he was all of the above, all at the same time. Which, of course, makes sense and nonsense simultaneously.

One thing I wonder, and I don't think it gives anything away, is why we never see MORE than two Henrys at a given time. It seems that occasionally, there might be a time when multiple Henrys ended up at the same place at the same time, since he traveled to places and times that held some import in his life.

Although I am not doing my what I liked and didn't like thing, I have to say that I absolutely LOVED the character Kimy. Her complete ho-hum acceptance of a naked Henry suddenly appearing under her dining room table or on her kitchen floor, and the fact that she kept changes of clothes in various sizes for him, and was just exactly the type of neighbor you wish you'd known as a child, or you wish your children had in their lives, and that it's all wrapped up in this tiny elderly Asian woman, was totally endearing and funny. She is a fabulous character.

So to summarize, really only one thing needs to be said: If you haven't read this novel, you should immediately rectify that situation.

I originally chose this book from Dewey's list. It then appeared on Heatherbird's list as well. Dewey grew up in Chicago and enjoyed reading a story set in an area with which she was very familiar. I understand that completely, as that is one reason why I love Pat Conroy's novels, besides his amazing writing of course. Dewey also has a relationship with her husband that is similar to that of Clare and Henry. Heatherbird chose this book because she likes science fiction that seems realistic.


alisonwonderland said...

great review! i read this book back in march and absolutely loved it.

Rhinoa said...

I loved this book too and keep recommending it to people.

Margo. said...

This is one of my all time favs. A fabulous book!