The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

It is a romance story, to be sure, however the Time Traveler’s Wife is so much more than that.  These days its hard to understand how some novels get published (*ahem – Twilight – ahem*) but I don’t have such a quandary with this novel.  It is a science fiction/romance novel.  You know, I didn’t think that genre crossed over.  I guess it is not hard-core Sci-Fi; we do not get to know all the genetic anomalies that allow Henry to time travel, do we?  But, like all good Sci-Fi, there are some ethical and philosophical questions that are raised in this novel.

 

Someone who is able to travel to the future could easily scoop all the prize money in the lottery, yet most don’t do that, do they?  In this story Henry does, but not out of selfishness.

 

Fate is something that isn’t blatantly mentioned, but it is a huge part of the story.  At the beginning of the tale Clare is meeting Henry for the first time in his present however she’s known him almost all her life because an older version has been visiting her.  Were they fated to be together and that’s why Henry came to her as a young child, or was he there for the first time as an accident and that set the future chain of events.  Trying to determine cause and effect here is making my head spin!  Many of us would be sorely tempted to try and change things from our past.  This, in Henry’s world, isn’t possible which lends itself to the idea that things are fated.  There was only one mention in the novel of anything changing.  Clare dates a picture once that Henry says was not dated in the future.  When he returns she has removed the date from it after all.

 

The novel is a little confusing because it does not progress in a chronologically linear fashion.  In one chapter Henry is 43, in the next he’s 27 or 5 or 15.  Sometimes he’s in the same scene twice at two different ages.  Sometimes Clare sees two Henrys and sometimes she doesn’t see him for days at a time.  Now that’s a strong marriage; to have a husband appearing naked who knows where all the time . . .

 

I really like the progression of Henry and Clare’s relationship.  When we first meet them everything is idealized.  Clare has always looked forward to seeing Henry.  She hasn’t given much thought to what her future self is feeling when he leaves, an understandable oversight for a teenager.  As an adult she slowly comes to realize what all Henry’s time traveling means to her and she grudgingly accepts it.  She really doesn’t have any other choice.  The mere fact that Henry doesn’t have control over his sudden disappearances could be a source of tension in the marriage, but I think they both handle things remarkably well and calmly, a refreshing change from characters who fly of the handle with the simplest provocation.

 

I cried at the end even thought I knew what was coming.  I won’t say in case there are any people out there reading this who have not read the novel.  I would recommend reading this book.  It’s not overly complex but leaves you with several large ethical issues to debate.

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