Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I read this one for the A to Z Challenge on the advice of numerous bloggers. It is the story of Henry and his wife, Claire. The book chronicles their life together from the time Henry met Claire when he was an adult, and she was a child. It turns out that Henry has a genetic mutation which allows him to travel through time. So he is able to meet Claire when she's a child, but he's already an adult. As their life together progresses, the reader follows Henry's erratic moves through his life. In some instances, Henry even meets various versions of himself.

STRENGTHS OF THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE: I loved everything about this book. Henry and Claire's love story is quite touching and believable, despite Henry's travels though time. The book starts as Claire declares that her job is to wait. She does spend much of the book waiting for Henry to return from a different time or waiting for him to show up at an appointed time. However, I didn't find myself feeling sorry for her because she lived a full life with friends and her art, making paper and paper sculptures. I found the ending to be both sad and glorious. Instead of being sappy, I felt like these two people were truly destined to be together.

Niffenegger's humor was apparent as Henry always appeared in his travels naked and had to beg, borrow, or steal clothes and money to get by in his new time. Henry was a wonderful character. Even though it's obvious that he has a problem with alcohol, and possibly drugs, he maintains high moral standards. He doesn't reveal what he knows of the future to friends, except for the occassional stock tip, and will not consummate his relationship with Claire until she is 18.

The author also created a wonderful world of supporting characters. I especially enjoyed some of the trampy women in Henry's life during a time period before he was married to Claire. His best friend, Gomez, and his wife were nice touch points in the story. It was a bit hard to believe that they knew about the time travel and accepted it, but it was nice to see the true friendship between the characters.

WEAKNESSES OF THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE: I really liked the book, but it was not told in a linear fashion since we followed Henry's shifts through time. This might bother some people, but it was essential to the story.

Overall, this is also a five star book for me. I could read this one over and over and probably see things I'd missed the first time through. I highly recommend it and look forward to hearing what other people thought of it.


Maw Books said...

I just added this book to my TBR list this past week as suddenly I'm seeing it everywhere. I skimmed through your review though, I don't like knowing to much about books I haven't read. Everybody, including yourself, has highly recommended it, so it must be great. Am looking forward to it!

BookGal said...

maw - I really try not to give too much away. I hope you enjoy it. It's a great read!

Literary Feline said...

Thank you for the great review! I hope to read this one this year, finally! So many people I know keep pushing me towards it.

Framed said...

I read this book last year and it was one of my favorites. I thought it was amazing for her first book. Glad you enjoyed it.

Trish said...

This is one of my all-time favorite books, but there are still some parts that I'm confused about (I was going to say, but I don't want to spoil it for others who have read the book).

The way the story was told was a little difficult to get used it, but at the same time it really intrigued me and kept me wanting to find out more. Great review of a great book!

Jeane said...

Of all the books I've read recently, this was one of my favorites. It's one I really couldn't put down. I felt there were some holes in the story that could have been better explained or expanded upon, but overall it was such a great book! I can't wait to read something else by this author.

Maria said...

I keep meaning to delve back into this book. At the time I first read it I found it sad and had to put it down...but I LOVED it. I loved bouncing back and forth, loved the charachters, the premise and loved the writing.
Thanks for reminding me to get back to this book, perhaps I'm a bit more "ready" now than I was before.
Enjoyed your review!

BookGal said...

Literary - Do read it! It is a treat.

Framed - It was a great book and I didn't realize it was from a first time author.

Trish - I agree that parts are confusing - but I liked that. I think this one would get better on a reread.

Jeane - I don't know how you'd tell this story without the holes. I did wonder how Henry found Claire for the very first time.

Maria - Thanks for visiting. I checked out your blog. You sound like a busy, snowed in homeschooler. I admire people who can spend that much time with their own kids.

Mindy Withrow said...

I read this book aloud to my husband two summers ago while traveling, and we both really enjoyed it. The narrative form is so unusual and makes it hard to describe, but I loved that as a creative element. Definitely not your typical novel! Hard to get your head around, but the world she creates makes it worth the effort.

Presbyterian Gal said...

I read this last year too. I was blown away at such a well crafted first novel. Very original story and I found the style reminiscent of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5. Difficult to pull that off.

The only issue I had with the story was what I considered to be a gaping hole near to the end. I'll chat with you about it in person, because it's a spoiler to mention it.

Nyssaneala said...

I have this on a few challenge lists this year, so I will hopefully get around to reading it!

BookGal said...

Mindy - I would never have thought of this one as a read aloud. It probably lead to some great discussions.

Pres - I probably know what you mean. We'll talk.

Nyssaneala - I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Hannah said...


I work for Regal Literary, the literary agency that represents Audrey Niffenegger. We noticed your interest in Audrey Niffenegger and THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE and want you to know we’re giving away Advance Reader’s Copies of HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY now to bloggers who have written about Audrey’s work. To get yours, click below or you can contact me directly at with your mailing address.

Look forward to hearing from you,

Matthew said...

My name is Matt, and I also work at Regal.

We have announced a second contest for a chance to win yet more copies of HFS.

If you enjoyed TTW, you might be interested in knowing that Regal Literary is giving away ten advanced reader's copies and three first edition hardcovers of the new Audrey Niffenegger book, Her Fearful Symmetry, on October 1st in a lottery to anyone who joins the facebook page as a fan and sends an e-mail to Good luck!