The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
“Clock time is our bank manager, tax collector, police inspector;
this inner time is our wife”
This quote by Priestley kick-starts Niffenegger’s novel, highlighting it’s what we do with our time that’s meaningful and worthwhile, not time passing by itself.
An interesting combination of both science-fiction and romance, The Time Traveler’s Wife takes a unique concept of time travelling and weaves it into a complex yet tantalising love story.
Recommended to me by a friend, and not so much by another, I read this novel to gain my own opinion on the story. I was intrigued at the depth in which the reader gets to know 2 characters very well, these 2 being Clare and Henry, a couple whose lives are bound together by time, and yet each are living on completely different trajectories. This is because Henry was born with a disease causing his genetic clock to periodically reset, meaning he frequently time travels to his own past or future and rarely stays put in one time zone. Clare, however, is stuck living in the present like the rest of us.
This presents some problems where the couple rarely meet at the same age, and will wait years for the next point in time where their lives cross paths. Yet, despite the frustration of waiting, they stay together, because the little time they spend with each other is more precious and more valuable than time itself. (Just like Priestley said…) True love right there folks!
There is also a beauty in Henry’s ability to time travel, as rather than avoiding himself much like when Doctor Who refuses to interfere with his own timeline, Henry actually supports himself. He is his own friend. He confides in himself at each stage of his life. This I think is another love story in itself, as Henry not only spends time with others such as Clare, but he makes sure to spend time with himself. Niffenegger emphasises this importance of self-love through placing Walcott’s poem ‘Love after Love’ before the prologue.
Onto what I thought of the writing itself, well, I admit I wasn’t too impressed or gripped to the novel, meaning it was easy for me to put down and return to later. I relate this to my personal taste for action and adventure however, rather than a more laid back casual read. It is also quite a largely drawn out story, yet thinking about it this extension actually represents the time we spend waiting in our lives for those special moments we truly live for. Niffenegger’s writing style is relaxed and flows between dialogues with ease. She portrays both Henry and Clare’s lives beautifully to the reader, which can’t have been an easy feat chronologically whilst sticking to the plot. It is a novel which certainly took some planning!
Overall, this novel is a touching, emotional read, which has been intertwined with the all important concept of time. It will guide you through both the good and bad moments of Clare and Henry’s lives, and how their lives are enriched when they spend what little time they have together. The ending in particular really made me smile.
My Goodreads rating: 2/5*