The Time Traveler's Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife

The Time Traveler’s Wife, one of the best romance books of all time, is now available as an eBook!Audrey Niffenegger's dazzling debut is the story of Clare, a beautiful, strong-minded art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one....

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Title:The Time Traveler's Wife
Author:Audrey Niffenegger
Rating:
Edition Language:English
Format Type:ebook
Number of Pages:500 pages

The Time Traveler's Wife Reviews

  • Liz S.
    Aug 01, 2007

    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.

  • Swaps55
    Aug 06, 2007

    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.

  • Emma
    Oct 06, 2007

    If I had to define "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger in two words they would be: poignant and excessive—two words that also illustrate my mixed feelings about Niffenegger’s first novel.

    “The Time Traveler’s Wife” is about many things. Obviously time travel is an important feature, but this novel is also about librarians, artists, punk rock, and alcoholics. It’s also about love.

    Henry meets his wife, Clare, for the first time when he is 28 and Clare is 20. Clare met Henry for the fir

    If I had to define "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger in two words they would be: poignant and excessive—two words that also illustrate my mixed feelings about Niffenegger’s first novel.

    “The Time Traveler’s Wife” is about many things. Obviously time travel is an important feature, but this novel is also about librarians, artists, punk rock, and alcoholics. It’s also about love.

    Henry meets his wife, Clare, for the first time when he is 28 and Clare is 20. Clare met Henry for the first time when she was six and Henry was 36. Henry is, literally, a time traveler. Henry has a disease: a cellular disorder that leaves him unglued in time, traveling at random to various points in the past and future of his own life and, inexplicably, to Clare’s childhood. Henry cannot hold onto any of his possessions when he time travels—no clothes, no food, no money—a fact that often has a disastrous effect on Henry’s life.

    Throughout it all, Clare is at Henry’s side faithfully waiting for him to return to her and their life together.

    Niffenegger alternates viewpoints, narrating the story in both Henry’s and Clare’s voice. Despite giving the characters equal narration time, Clare remains painfully one-dimensional. She is defined by her love for Henry, her artistic career and, unfortunately, little else.

    Thankfully, Henry is written much more fully. Working as a librarian at the Newberry in his present, Henry also has a complex life “out of time." He is also well-versed in the culture of drugs and drinking. Really, Henry is a mess in every sense of the word. Despite all of his problems, though, Henry remains redeemable. Throughout the novel he clings to a certain charm, a quality that makes it plausible to believe that Clare really did love him long before Henry first met her.

    The novel jumps from past to present and back again as Niffenegger aptly looks at how Henry’s past intersects with his present and his future, and his evolving relationship with Clare. These examinations are a particular strength of the novel. Niffenegger manages to discuss events multiple times without being redundant. At the same time she creates a complex storyline without making it impossible to follow.

    Unfortunately, she does also falter. Most of the novel’s shortcomings stem from some kind of excess. First and foremost, it’s too long. (The hardcover edition runs 600 pages.) Particularly in the second half of the novel, it feels like Niffenegger takes on too much. There are too many characters to remember, too many events only tangentially relevant to the core plot. All things considered, the novel could easily have been at least a hundred pages shorter.

    For this reason, the premise of the plot has some fundamental flaws—points that make no sense in relation to the rest of the narrative. On the whole, these blips are annoying but not damning (especially given the fact that the novel is marketed as general fiction as opposed to science fiction).

    “The Time Traveler’s Wife” also veers dangerously close to melodrama, raining biblically disastrous situations on both Henry and Clare. Given the ending of the novel, one would think that merely being a time traveler would be enough bad luck to last both of their lifetimes. Aside from being plain old mean, this focus on events makes it difficult to develop the characters. Many interesting people walk in and out of Henry’s life, but few of them are adequately utilized in the book.

    The scope of the narrative is vast and strongly cinematic, which leads me to two conclusions: One is that this story might have been better had someone else written it. The other is that the upcoming film adaptation will be better than the novel. Given the fascinating story and characters here, hopefully that will be the case.

  • Andrea
    Dec 21, 2007

    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.

  • Danielle
    Jan 18, 2008

    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?

  • Erin
    Jan 24, 2008

    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

  • Claire Greene
    Jan 24, 2008

    I have a serious love/hate relationship with this book. The good stuff:

    I really liked the jumps back and forth in time - surprisingly, the author was able to keep it all straight and I never really felt so terribly confused that I just wanted to give up.

    I loved the Henry character. I really loved him. He was flawed, he tried so hard to be a good man, etc etc. I just really loved this character.

    I liked the love story - I felt that the feelings between the two of them were real and so deep. So oft

    I have a serious love/hate relationship with this book. The good stuff:

    I really liked the jumps back and forth in time - surprisingly, the author was able to keep it all straight and I never really felt so terribly confused that I just wanted to give up.

    I loved the Henry character. I really loved him. He was flawed, he tried so hard to be a good man, etc etc. I just really loved this character.

    I liked the love story - I felt that the feelings between the two of them were real and so deep. So often a love story goes for huge dramatics to prove the deep love between two people and

    I liked that she didn't do that - you see their love for each other in what they do, how they talk, how they touch.

    I liked how the author kept the time traveling dark - the idea that he has no money and no clothes and has to scramble to stay alive and not arrested, etc etc. was great - very realistic for an unreal premise.

    I actually liked that they threw in the genetic testing and whatever of the time traveling disorder. I know many people felt that it was ridiculous, or felt like it was just shoved in there, but I really thought it brought a realism to the story. It helped take the story out of the sci-fi realm and put it more in reality. All of a sudden it became about a person with a disease and a family fighting to hold it together rather than a mysterious hole in the universe. I don't normally like pseudo science, but I actually thought it worked here.

    The bad stuff:

    I hated the name dropping, etc. I know some people liked it, but I just hated it. Yeah, I get it - he liked punk music. Wow. It just felt so contrived and fake to me. It felt more like the AUTHOR likes punk music and art and architecture and whatever else and was putting in those names as a shout out to her "peeps". Like, hey guys, if you know who this is you are part of a super secret cool club - yeah!! Not so much.

    I thought the Claire character was criminally flat. I agree with another reviewer that said the book was called "The Time Traveler's WIFE" and yet she is mostly a non-character. Now, I don't have a problem with the idea that she ended up devoting her life to Henry. That her commitment to him overshadowed other choices she could have made in life - well, I thought that was pretty realistic and understandable. If her husband got in a car crash and was a vegetable for the rest of his life, and to take care of him she ended up having to forgo many choices and let her life be dictated by this man and his medical needs, we wouldn't be arguing as much about it. But that doesn't mean she doesn't have her own dreams, thoughts, needs, desires, etc. which the author could have spent more time dealing with and developing. I really felt that Claire was mainly there as an object for Henry to love - not her own person. You never feel that Claire loved Henry and made this choice, this sacrifice - you feel that it was inevitable because the author said so.

    Claire's family was ridiculously flat. If Claire was not developed enough, her family wasn't developed at all. They are pretty much cardboard cut outs of stereotypes propped up at certain points in the story to help keep the plot going. And where the heck do they live again that EVERYONE has money. Not just money, but Money.

    I got sick and tired of the pregnancies and miscarriages. How many times before you realize you are harming yourself and your husband to the point that you will never recover? Given what happens to him and all - aren't their lives hard enough?? Why do that to yourselves over and over? I understand the strong desire for a child, but why not adopt? Why was that not an option? I can't remember at that point if they knew it was a genetic disorder or not - but if they did, would they really want that for their child - wouldn't that be even more of a reason to adopt? And what the heck were they going to tell that child?? Given how talky the characters were, I was pretty surprised that there were no heartfelt discussions of how exactly they were going to raise a child in that type of environment and what they would tell other people, etc,

    I really didn't like the abrupt cut from the grief on Henry dying to her being 85. That is a lot of time to cover and it felt cheap to not give even a token synopsis of how her and her daughter dealt with his death and her having the same disorder. I honestly can't decide whether her being able to see him one last time (it was him as a younger man jumping way ahead in time, so it was the past for Henry who was still dead) was touching or cruel. To deal with a devastating loss like that and so much time has gone by and to just have him pop back in like that - are you glad for one more precious moment or is it terribly cruel to give hope and snatch it away? And to do that to the daughter too?? I don't know.....

    My feelings about the ending depend on my mood. Somedays I feel that the ending was depressing but realistic. Not everything has a happy ending and I hate it when movies and TV show that ANY problem can be solved in 30 minutes! So having something real, even if difficult, felt right. Other days I feel like it was crap. Sure life isn't always great but it isn't always crap either. And I hate fatalism like that - I hate the idea that life is crap and there is no escaping it.

    I was also annoyed with Henry quitting - just giving up on life for so long after the feet thing. I get that he was depressed and all. I do. But he has lived his whole life not being able to depend on anything - not where he will wake up, not if he'll have money, not be able to see or be with the people he loves, having to be deposited in the middle of no where and scramble for clothes, food and money with no idea when and where he will return? This is a man who is incredibly resourceful and resilient. I just had a hard time believing that he would quit like that. Then again, I would imagine all those years of doing just that would take a toll on him and that was the final blow he just couldn't handle. But no, I still think it was out of character.

    And the truly terrible

    The two things that are just atrocious in this book - the references to her families black servants and Henry's friend and downstairs neighbor growing up, Kimmy. Wow. Holy Stereotypes batman!! Even given Claire's family having money and being upper crust and all - the whole description of them and the black servants was so odd and anachronistic. Wait - when did we all time travel to 1776?? Why is Mammy here? And with Henry's downstairs neighbor - she was slightly better written and I enjoyed her character in relation to Henry and all, but again, she was so stereotypical with the broken en-ga-rish and all. I don't know how she got away with those representations at all - how did not one editor or something say," uh, Audrey, could we talk about these ethnic characters? They might be a little too ethnic." Seriously. Absurd.

    So that is it- I loved parts of this book and hated parts of this book. There was a lot that was well done and some that was criminal. I don't know if I wish someone else had taken this idea and written it or if I wish the author had held onto this idea until she had more books under her belt and could do it justice. Either way, I just can't truly recommend this book but I can't tell people to avoid it either. AARGH!

  • Shan B
    Mar 01, 2008

    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.

  • Lara
    Mar 17, 2008

    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

  • Laura
    May 16, 2008

    Just because something is popular does not mean it's good. Mass "taste" is often incredibly bad. Such is the case with this book, only it's not incredibly bad, just not worth the hours it takes to read it.

    It seems like every fiction book I've read in the past couple of years is highly depressing, this one included. My life is full enough of it's own challenges and disappointments that I'd like to read to escape. Yes, if novels are full of heartache and struggle, they are realistic and more accur

    Just because something is popular does not mean it's good. Mass "taste" is often incredibly bad. Such is the case with this book, only it's not incredibly bad, just not worth the hours it takes to read it.

    It seems like every fiction book I've read in the past couple of years is highly depressing, this one included. My life is full enough of it's own challenges and disappointments that I'd like to read to escape. Yes, if novels are full of heartache and struggle, they are realistic and more accurately reflecting real life. Well, this book is clearly not realistic anyway, and the amount of trauma that happened to Henry went beyond what an average person encounters. I appreciate what Niffenegger was trying to do, and it certainly has it's romanticism, but it was not enjoyable to read.

    At the beginning, I had a hard time getting past the ridiculousness of the time traveling man that is the main premise of the book. I compared it to the annoying, short-lived tv show "Journeyman", the (also depressing) movie "Premonition", and the time-traveling bits in "Lost". To better swallow it, I thought of it as a children's book for adults. So I finally got past the goofiness of time-travelin' Henry. It was interesting how the author put together all the different past and futures. I thought she did a good job with how she chose to order them in the book. Where was the plot though? While this is not a traditional story in its presentation, if you put the different scenes in sequential order it should be. Instead of a story with much of a plot though, it was more like an anthropological ethnographic study of Clare and Henry. One third of the book was just them having sex and making coffee. It read to me as more of a descriptive chronicle than a tale with messages to relay.

    I also thought that Niffenegger never fully developed certain pieces like what happened to Henry's dad

    visited him and he was barely holding it together. Later in the book, he comes across as a typical, mostly functioning father, but we don't see how that change occurred. It also isn't clear why Henry likes Gomez. It must be nice for Henry to have a friend who knows his secret, and Gomez does some stuff to help out Henry and Clare, but why the bond? The first time they all have dinner together, Gomez is highly rude to Henry, but then the next time they meet during one of the time travels, they're all buddy-buddy. It's not like Henry's just using him for help; he actually likes him on some emotional level. One would think Gomez being in love with Clare would get in the way of that.

    To wrap this up, I also think the author tries too hard to make Clare and Henry cool: Clare with her dramatic artsiness and Henry with his incredible scope of book knowledge and languages, plus all the stuff about their music tastes. I don't think she does a very good job of showing how Henry goes from being the selfish, lost young jerk to the caring, mature husband. It's supposed to be Clare's influence, but the process is not really shown. There's another huge gap in info that bothers me, but it would be a spoiler. (Hard to believe you could have a spoiler without much plot, but there are a couple pieces that are major events in the book.)

    All in all, interesting concept tying time travel to romance, but with real life being trying enough, I need something more light-hearted.