The Time Traveler’s Wife
By Audrey Niffenegger
Audrey Niffenegger blends in time-travel (without sounding like a science fiction novel) and romance into a masterpiece – “The Time Traveler’s Wife”, which is wonderfully and creatively written novel.
Our hero, Henry DeTamble suffers from Chrono Displacement Disorder, which is a genetic disease, and it causes him to time travel involuntarily – to the future, or the past. There are times, when he travels to the past, and relives the memory of his late mother; or to the future, meeting the child they would have. It all starts, when he travelled to the past and he met the love of his life – Claire Abshire, who was out at her parent’s meadow, doodling away. A sound from the bushes intrigued her, and she threw her shoe at him. And out came Henry, who was stark naked, covered only with a beach towel. And that was their first meeting. She was six, and he, 36.
Now, are you interested? No? No, not yet, of course.
We are introduced to their families and friends. Although they are minor, side characters, they do play some important parts in the novel as it develops – Henry’s longstanding girlfriend, Ingrid Carmichel, Claire’s close friends, Charisse and Gomez, Mrs Kim, Henry’s caretaker/neighbour/landlord/friend; and all this, yes, makes it a better read.
The couple continued their unconventional way of dating and eventually married. Like every other couple, they have their ups and downs. Claire was upset and disappointed about her disappearing and never-there-when-i-need-you husband; Henry was frustrated at Claire’s determinacy to risk her life to carry a baby. Claire does eventually conceives, a baby girl by the name of Alba DeTamble, who has time-travelling abilities, too. Unlike her father, however, she is somewhat able to control it.
Throughout the novel, we do read a little foreshadowing about Henry’s death. Yes, the hero dies in the end. However, due to his time-travelling abilities, he does appear every now and then. We then see the family moving on, until the epilogue, where we see Claire, old with age, who is waiting for Henry --
"He is coming, and I am here."
What got me glued to this novel is the author’s ability to write fluidly, sequencing the future and foreshadowing without revealing much, and then reverting back to the current timeline. For starters, it may be quite confusing and erratic, but it will make sense later on the novel. The author touches on various aspects of humanity – love and loss, death and dying, drugs.
I personally recommend this. If you are looking for a good read or a romantic novel, put aside your Mills and Boons, and give this a try. It does take you through Henry and Claire’s life – their first meeting, their families and friends, their trails and tribulations, their married life.
It leaves a bittersweet taste in your mouth.