The Time Traveler's Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife

A funny, often poignant tale of boy meets girl with a twist: what if one of them couldn't stop slipping in and out of time? Highly original and imaginative, this debut novel raises questions about life, love, and the effects of time on relationships.Audrey Niffenegger’s innovative debut, The Time Traveler’s Wife, is the story of Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, a...

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Title:The Time Traveler's Wife
Author:Audrey Niffenegger
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Time Traveler's Wife Reviews

  • Swaps55

    Warning: Spoilery review. Short version: Hurry up and read this.

    Holy crap. Someone should have warned me about reading this book at work. I have been sitting here bawling my eyes out, tears streaming madly down my cheeks, flooding my eyes until the words swim into fields of glistening black lines. This book is so beautiful and anguishing to read I can't even be objective about it, because it was one of those stories that just burrowed a lot closer to home than you could ever feel comfortable wi

    Warning: Spoilery review. Short version: Hurry up and read this.

    Holy crap. Someone should have warned me about reading this book at work. I have been sitting here bawling my eyes out, tears streaming madly down my cheeks, flooding my eyes until the words swim into fields of glistening black lines. This book is so beautiful and anguishing to read I can't even be objective about it, because it was one of those stories that just burrowed a lot closer to home than you could ever feel comfortable with. Really, though, even objectively I have little to offer in the way of criticism. What was probably a nightmare of a book to write was woven together seamlessly, so beautifully constructed it seems more like a living, organic thing than an idea born inside someone's head.

    I liked the foreshadowing, I liked the intricacy, I liked that we never really know what Alba chooses in the future, whether she embraces the time travel or tries to stop it. I loved the poignant pain that begins to trickle across the pages as the pieces begin falling into place. I am curious to see how Clare and Alba's relationship developed once Henry was gone, but I was happy it was not in the story. That there are plenty of things for my imagination to fill in makes me happy. I also really liked the approach the author took to the paradox of time travel. It seemed the most plausible, unarguable position I've ever heard (and I have taken a class on it), though I have not allowed myself to think about it too hard as I have no wish, at least within the context of this book, to unravel how much sense it makes.

    What really hit me in the gut (seriously, I did not even cry this hard when I read "

    " for the first time, and I got red-faced, puffy-eyed and ugly over that one), was the horrible feeling that I could see myself as Clare and know exactly how she felt about Henry, and could fill the unwritten pages of her future with grief that I would know and understand. I cannot imagine losing my husband. I cannot imagine ever having to face a day knowing that he was not there, and never would be again. No matter how much I would want to think that for his sake I would be strong, go on, live out my life with joy and accomplishment as he would have wanted, the truth is I would probably wind up just like Henry's father, a wasted, squandered creature who does not know how to exist alone without the sound of his laughter, the warmth of his arms around my body, the feel of his head resting against my chest, the drowsy murmur of "I love you" against my ear as we drift off to sleep, the domestic intimacy and companionship that accompanies the hiss of bacon frying in the skillet as he and I stand side by side fixing breakfast on Sunday mornings. I do not know who I would be without those things, but I would be someone unrecognizable from who I am now.

    This book is also listed on IMDB, which really excites me, as I think it could be a beautiful movie. Everything it needs to be good is right here in the book, and because of the manner of Henry's death, it even lacks the melodramatic twist that most dramas rely on, such as a car accident, an act of God, or something else outside of the character's control. No, there is culpability here, and that is an incredibly powerful thing. While it was not the purpose of this book to examine how Claire dealt with her father and brother

    's death, or how they dealt with themselves, it would have been so interesting to see. There's too much to like about this book, and something so real and raw and powerful about the sadness and grief it portrays. Incredible.

  • Lara

    I am conflicted about this book. Do not let my 4 stars fool you, they are an emotional rating.

    I'll start with the things I really liked about it:

    Loved all the foreshadowing. The knowing something was going to happen, and maybe even a little bit of what it was, but never knowing or understanding fully until both characters had experienced the moment. And then all the foreshadowing of the tragic end. Once I started putting the puzzle together I really couldn't put it down. And I had several moment

    I am conflicted about this book. Do not let my 4 stars fool you, they are an emotional rating.

    I'll start with the things I really liked about it:

    Loved all the foreshadowing. The knowing something was going to happen, and maybe even a little bit of what it was, but never knowing or understanding fully until both characters had experienced the moment. And then all the foreshadowing of the tragic end. Once I started putting the puzzle together I really couldn't put it down. And I had several moments where I couldn't control the tears even long before the tragedy happens, because the foreshadowing was that emotionally charged.

    I felt that the way the author set it up was ingenious. While you are reading along in a fairly chronological timeline, it is interspersed with moments of past and future as Henry travels through time. At first it felt very disjunct, but by the end I really loved the way it mirrored how Henry and Clare must feel as they lived their life in such a non-chronological manner. Especially Henry.

    The love story was indeed epic. I bawled like a baby at the end, it was so tragic to me. And sweet at the same time. The way that the author addressed themes of love, fate, destiny, personal choice and, of course, time was mind blowing at times (as all time travel issues are to me) but very cool to see how it all intertwined. I liked how she dealt with the whole time travel issue in that Henry could never actually change anything in the future. Everything already happened, whether in the past or the future, because for Henry, his future is his past and his past is his future. I told you it was a bit mind blowing. But yeah, the love story was riveting.

    Things I didn't like so much:

    The absolutely uneccesary detail of the mundane. I felt the author spent too much time describing grocery lists (literally!) of things and music and whatever when she could have been examining the thoughts and feelings of the characters. It took me 3 weeks to read this book, and not because it was long. I didn't have any problem ignoring it for days at a time because of the tedious reading at times. Nothing in the writing made me want to keep reading until the last half of the book, which I did read much more quickly.

    The language. F-word on nearly every page. Two sitings of the C-word. Totally unnecessary. The love scenes were often a bit graphic, and there were so many of them. Because of this, I started feeling that the love was based in sex more than anything and I would have like the author to explore some of the more deep feelings that did show up when Henry and Clare weren't in bed. Again, unnecessary really.

    Sometimes I got confused and experienced deja vu. Knowing it was because one of the characters had already mentioned a certain event and I would often have to go through the book and find the previous mention so I could have full understanding.

    Mostly though, it was a very cool book. And very emotional...at least for me. It really spoke to something in me about relationships and choices and destiny (not that I totally believe in destiny, but you know.)p

  • Liz S.

    I recently read The Time-Traveler's Wife and was pretty disappointed---the author somehow manages to turn such an awesome premise (the dude actually time travels!) into something pretty flat and dull. The first hundred pages really hooked me, but after a while I started to get irritated by:

    1. All the name checking of hipster-approved bands in an attempt to establish Henry's supposed "punk" cred. He liked the Violent Femmes in 1991. That's why he's so badass? Seriously?

    2. The food porny descripti

    I recently read The Time-Traveler's Wife and was pretty disappointed---the author somehow manages to turn such an awesome premise (the dude actually time travels!) into something pretty flat and dull. The first hundred pages really hooked me, but after a while I started to get irritated by:

    1. All the name checking of hipster-approved bands in an attempt to establish Henry's supposed "punk" cred. He liked the Violent Femmes in 1991. That's why he's so badass? Seriously?

    2. The food porny descriptions of the meals they eat. Some paragraphs read like the menu of a pretentious bistro.

    3. The awful ethnic stereotypes that characterize the few non-white characters (Nell, the mammy-esque family cook (complete with dialect), or Charisse, the "childlike" Filipina).

    4. The fact that everyone is successful and at least upper middle class, if not fabulously wealthy. Even Henry somehow manages to keep his job at the Newberry library for 20 years, despite his habits of disappearing for odd stretches of time, not keeping appointments, and, oh, running around naked in the stacks from time to time. It would have been more interesting to me if his disorder kept him from having any normal kind of professional life.

    5. The lack of character development in the protagonists after they finally meet as adults.

    All of a sudden, they meet and they're in love. The author gives lip service to Henry's womanizing and drug problems, but really, they don't seem to pose much more than a passing problem for Clare because she already knows they'll get married. And even as a married couple, their biggest source of conflict (whether they can or should have a child) is extrinsic, rather than intrinsic to their personalities/characters. Clare never really seems to be bothered by her lack of independence, or the fact that she's so tethered to Henry because he had a part in making her who she is, etc.

    By the time I actually got to the end of the story, I was too emotionally distanced from the characters to really be moved by what happens to them---the burden of plot winds up outsripping any kind of nuanced characterization. Bad science fiction and bad romance. Bah humbug.

  • Danielle

    Why can't there be a negative star rating? I hated, hated this book. And yes, I did finish it. All way-too-many pages of it. But, in my defense it was (foolishly) the only book I brought with me when I was hospitalized for 24 hours after wisdom tooth surgery, and when your options are daytime soaps or this wretched book...well, at least I got to read the ending and conclude definitively that it wasn't worth it. Okay, now that I've gotten a bit of a rant out, let me be a little more organized abo

    Why can't there be a negative star rating? I hated, hated this book. And yes, I did finish it. All way-too-many pages of it. But, in my defense it was (foolishly) the only book I brought with me when I was hospitalized for 24 hours after wisdom tooth surgery, and when your options are daytime soaps or this wretched book...well, at least I got to read the ending and conclude definitively that it wasn't worth it. Okay, now that I've gotten a bit of a rant out, let me be a little more organized about my dislikes:

    1. The sex. More accurately, the sex after sex after sex, in graphic detail (not pornographic detail, granted, but WAY more than I wanted to picture), at all sorts of different ages. Wow. Yeah, I just hated that. If it serves a purpose to the plot, fine, include it, but don't give me every single move. I just don't need to know that.

    2. The plot was convoluted. I can say this fairly because I read it in practically one sitting, and while I was able to keep things straight, it would have served the book better to not attempt to take in so many sub-plots and minutia.

    3. Okay, I will admit that for having a sci-fi premise, the concept of time travel as outlined here was at least moderately believable. What I didn't like was that it wasn't especially original (anyone seen Journeyman?) yet had the pretension that it was.

    4. The whole crux of the novel was the great love story between Henry and Claire. Yet, as a reader I'm much more interested and moved by two NICE people ending up together, and staying together, than two people I just don't like that much. Let's face it, Henry is not a great guy. And there's that whole poor-rich-girl thing going on with Claire. I just wasn't feeling it.

    Okay, all of that said, I really don't recommend this book to anyone. I realize there are a lot of people that like it (I know; I checked the reviews expecting to be completely vindicated, but alas, it seems I'm in the minority) but those people who like it apparently enjoy a different class of book than I do. There are so many great works out there, why waste your time with this?

  • Shan B

    Let me start this by saying I was very excited to read this book. I thought it was going to be good. It is not in any way good. It could have been good, the idea could have soared but in Niffenegger's hands it was destroyed by laundry lists of grocery bag contents, street directions, and punk bands until I even said, out loud, more than once, "okay, I get it." He bought groceries, he knows how to get around in Chicago, Clare likes to clean her studio, he is not just a punk rock poser but the rea

    Let me start this by saying I was very excited to read this book. I thought it was going to be good. It is not in any way good. It could have been good, the idea could have soared but in Niffenegger's hands it was destroyed by laundry lists of grocery bag contents, street directions, and punk bands until I even said, out loud, more than once, "okay, I get it." He bought groceries, he knows how to get around in Chicago, Clare likes to clean her studio, he is not just a punk rock poser but the real deal, complete with his cherry red Docs,etc. Seriously, this stuff does not pass for good writing in any circles. The tedious minutae of life is boring and makes the author look like she is trying to pad her story for more bulk.

    The worst part of this book was that the whole thing was based on contrived plot devices. The whole time I was reading I was wondering why the author chose to have him time travel naked. To me it seemed like if it weren't for his constant pursuit of clothes there may be some real chance at something actually happening in the story. Then at the end of the book I realized that the whole naked thing was a tool to achieve the amputations at the end.

    Where was this woman's editor? How do things like this get published, this story was nowhere near polished and pared down enough to make it to publication.

    Also, the gory miscarriage scenes, yuck!

    There was no introspect into the character's hearts and minds. How does Henry feel about knowing when he is going to die? How does Clare deal with him being a time travel? We will never know because the book was too full of what they did and how they did it and nothing about how they felt. I don't care about that stuff.

    These characters were selfish, pretentious and self absorbed. And the credibility goes right out the window when they win the lottery. Come on!

    I honestly don't see why this book is so well loved! This book angered me.

  • Andrea

    I'm only adding this book because it annoys me that it popped up on the "most popular reads." People, this book is terrible. Do yourself a favor and pretend you'd never heard of it.

    My short answer is that it's just no good, the long version is in the following list, which I call "The Problems I Have With The Time-Traveler's Wife."

    1. The author is indecisive. Rather than accepting that this is a science-fiction novel, she tries to write a social commentary, romance, and art and music novel all r

    I'm only adding this book because it annoys me that it popped up on the "most popular reads." People, this book is terrible. Do yourself a favor and pretend you'd never heard of it.

    My short answer is that it's just no good, the long version is in the following list, which I call "The Problems I Have With The Time-Traveler's Wife."

    1. The author is indecisive. Rather than accepting that this is a science-fiction novel, she tries to write a social commentary, romance, and art and music novel all rolled into one.

    There is so much name-dropping that it's distracting—classical music, entomology, poetry, romance languages, library science, the American punk scene, constructivist painters, you get the idea—they're all continually cropping up at the most inane times. What should give us a better understanding of the characters actually paints them as shells of people, identified only by superficialities. There is one completely pointless mention of a Moholy-Nagy poster that really annoyed me. I had five years of design school and while I know who Laszlo Moholy-Nagy is and how to correctly pronounce his name, I couldn't pick one of his paintings out of a lineup of his contemporaries, so I didn't even buy that this dude who has spent half of his life in limbo was some kind of expert.

    2. The title character's entire life and family are so difficult to relate to that I immediately hated her. She grew up in a house that has books written about it (irritating architecture reference) and everyone must "dress" for dinner at her parents' house, as if this were a Brontë novel.

    3. Her family employ five black servants. In a Christmas scene, for which the servants are unchained from the stove and allowed into the dining room, the cook actually toasts to "Miz Abshire."

    This book was written in 2004! How can the "Mammy" have any place here? She isn't even the only racially stereotyped character in this book. The traveler's childhood downstairs neighbor, a grandmotherly woman he refers to as Kimmy, speaks in a broken English which could have been stolen directly from a hateful gold rush-era cartoon.

    4. The book skips back and forth between the point-of-view of the title character and the time-traveler himself, but there is absolutely no difference in their voices. I think I actually got confused a few times about who was speaking.

    5. The phrase, “she was pale under her makeup” was used three times.

    6. The chapters dealing with infertility were completely unoriginal, boring, and emotionally flat.

    7. Not only are conversations unnecessarily long, but they are often followed by page after page of internal dialogue as the characters rehash and analyze every point of said conversation.

    Sorry this was so long, but this might be the worst book I've ever read and I'm really confused by all the good reviews.

  • Erin

    i hate reading books that everyone keeps bothering me to read. first there are the gushing reviews from the media, complete with intelligent sound clips:

    "it's so awesome! so titillating! the way the author captures that thing where the girl says that stuff and then they go to that cool place.. you know? even oprah says so!"

    and then there are the crowds of friends who carry around their freshly bought "it" book (ok, i'm bitter, i can't afford to buy new books) who can't wait to share their newf

    i hate reading books that everyone keeps bothering me to read. first there are the gushing reviews from the media, complete with intelligent sound clips:

    "it's so awesome! so titillating! the way the author captures that thing where the girl says that stuff and then they go to that cool place.. you know? even oprah says so!"

    and then there are the crowds of friends who carry around their freshly bought "it" book (ok, i'm bitter, i can't afford to buy new books) who can't wait to share their newfound genius at having read said new "it" book. they want to tell you... ooh, but erin hasn't read it yet, has she? ugh. well we'll just have to discuss later, then. *SIGH*". have you read it yet? have you read it yet? have you read it yet? have you---OW.

    "OW" being the moment i use aforementioned freshly purchased "it" book to smack someone over the head, thus ending my brief first and last encounter with said book, forever. unless it wins a nobel prize and i'm required to read it for sake of my intelligence. which has NEVER HAPPENED.

    *spoiler alert* HOWEVER. (sorry, this all caps thing is growing on me)

    however, a used copy of the time travelers wife was the biggest book i could find in the bargin bin before i boarded my 5 hour flight back to the east coast this holiday season, and therefore i found myself starting a novel that's been beaten over my head by all my bffs since it came out. and let me tell you, small cabin space and an a measly in-flight movie selection of "the game plan" and "george lopez's shitty sitcom whatever it's called" were the only things keeping me from dropping my interest throughout the first couple of chapters. i wanted to like these characters, because i like time travel, and anyone who gets to try it out should definitely also be cool. but i kept wondering, when does it get good? when does it get good? when does it get---

    and i'm not sure when it happened, but suddenly it got GOOD. i mean, really good. it wasn't really enough for me, just wondering when claire and henry would get together, because, to be honest, i wasn't that invested in their characters. i can't explain this, because i can't pinpoint the reason. the quality of writing was decent, i can find no specific thread to rant on about the characters not being developed... there was just no hook. after the first tiny intro at the very very beginning, i kept waiting for that sense of urgency to come back. and then it did. suddenly, beautifully, there was so much for them to live for, and as soon as i got that lovely, dreadful inkling that henry was going to die... of COURSE he has to die, shut up, i didn't spoil anything, this is a love story... then i couldn't get enough. i think the build up of flash backs helped incredibly in this as well, because after i had gained this huge database of memories i was inexplicably and wonderfully tied up in the drama of their stories. it was a slow, eventual build, but the payoff was WELL (there's that caps button again! god it's fun) worth it.

    which, let me tell you, almost never happens in these cases (unless you write "a million little pieces" and oprah shoves her big foot in her mouth and people like me get to watch the spectle on cnn between episodes of "arrested developement". lovely.

    ps. in a random, non funny tangent, i would also like to briefly comment on the fact that she wouldn't give up having her all important baby. wow, annoying. i felt just as tired as henry. give it up woman, you're wasting precious time with him and exhausting everybody on your insane quest. don't get me wrong, i felt really bad for her during the first part... but SIX miscarriages? i know there's an element like "who could handle that much sadness", but i got to thinking, "who could bring that much death on themselves"? where is the point where you say, it's not going to work, and i'll accept that? i was frustrated because i felt like she was spending what little time she had with henry making him worried about everything when they could have just been... living.

    there.

    done.

    DONE.

    wooooooo

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