Book Review of the Month

The Time Traveler’s Wife 

Audrey Niffenegger

Price:  Paperback £8.99 E-book £4.99

Rating: 9/10

Summary: A deeply moving story about love and marriage with a time travelling twist.

Review: If I could use one word to describe this novel I would chose memorizing. I have not read a book which I have become so engrossed in since I read Donna Tart’s ‘The Secret History’. I was literally unable to put this book down. Niffenegger explains in her prologue to her narrative that her intention was to examine the universal theme of love through mundane events and used the element of time traveler to make these events seem more interesting to the reader. The result of Niffenegger’s examination of marriage in this novel is to make the reader treasure their ordinary life and made me grateful for the normal romance which I have. In my review I aim to give you a snapshot of the novel and its basic themes without completely revealing the events of ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ as this would ruin the read for you.

The basic premise of the plot is a love story between Clare and Henry the two central characters. However, Henry is a time traveler who randomly disappears from the present and appears in the past and the future. At first I was a little sceptic as to how I could take a novel seriously in which one of the character’s was a time traveler but I was wrong the idea that Henry has a genetic impairment that causes him to become displaced in time is utterly convincing and eventually tragic. The element of time travel provides a unique lens to view the developing relationship between Henry and Clare as nothing occurs in the regular romantic order making it more interesting for the reader as it forces one to consider societal norms and brings in the idea of memories to the novel. What really makes the time travel element so interesting though is that Niffengger tells her narrative through both the central character’s viewpoints. This allows the reader to experience the events of the narrative from both perspectives which develops a greater knowledge of both characters for the reader. Most importantly, the dual narrative makes the reader think abut their own experiences and shows that every event is seen from multiple viewpoints, no two people experience the event in the same manner. For me this increased the enjoyability of the novel as it was not just another love story but an examination of lived experience between two individuals which was thought provoking enough to cause the reader to examine their own life.

Niffengger’s characterisation and plot are not the only great part of her story, she writes with amazing descriptive detail. I really felt as if I was in Chicago when I read the novel and was observing the events which unfolded between Clare and Henry first hand. The description of her character’s made them highly visible in my mind too. ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ is not another easy beach read romance which lacks engaging description or beautiful prose, it is skilfully and carefully written making every sentence worth reading and urging you to turn the next page. Consequently, an engaging narrative emerges which explains the difficulty I had in putting the book down whilst I was reading it.

I strongly urge you to read ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ it is one of those books which makes you realize why reading can be so much more worthwhile than watching the film version of books and the value of written prose. Niffenegger made me fall in love with reading all over again and with the concept of normalcy itself. I value my normal life and the beauty of a ordinary love more than ever after reading the narrative’s of Clare and Henry. The ordinary love between Henry and Clare becomes a great love in the pages of this and like all tragically fated loves is deeply moving and affecting. I should warn you that if the novel has the same affect on you that it did me you will need tissues. The fact that I cried after reading this novel as I reach its conclusion knowing that the inevitable tragedy would ensue shows the skill Niffenegger possesses as her novel was so real I was moved to real tears.  This may not yet be a classic but I believe that as the years go by it should become one. I cannot wait to read the sequel to this novel and am fearful to watch the film incase it spoils what has become one of my favourite books.

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