Again, Though Time – “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger
Her book, “Her Fearful Symmetry,” is one of the most hauntingly gorgeous pieces of literature I’ve ever read. Yet somehow it wasn’t until very recently that I picked up her debut novel and most famous work – “The Time Traveler’s Wife.” (Also known as the book everyone and their mother was reading on the bus and the train a few years back.)
Sure enough, “The Time Traveler’s Wife” is a compelling, magical, and yet totally believable story about an unbelievable circumstance. A man (Henry) travels through time, though not by choice. He can be at a holiday party and simply vanish, then reappear seven years later in a field miles away. While traveling, he even meets up with future and past versions of himself. Complicating Henry’s already complicated life is a woman named Clare, whom he loves. The two lovers meet up through the years, and build a life together despite Clare’s never knowing if Henry will be there when she wakes up. Both characters are endearing and well-developed, and their tragic romance makes for one hell of a read.
Rather than explaining the time travel as magic, Henry’s condition is scientific – a rare chromosomal disorder. When Clare and Henry decide to have a baby, Clare must suffer through multiple miscarriages because their child will have the same chromosomal disorder – and so the fetus simply vanishes. It’s these elements that keep the book from venturing into melodrama. Part sci-fi and part love story, the book is more along the lines of something Margaret Atwood would cook up than a traditional “chick” novel. It’s really smart, and somehow completely realistic. It’s like “Doctor Who” without the whole science-fiction angle and the aliens. You absolutely buy that this could happen.
“The Time Traveler’s Wife” is an awesome book. If you’re looking for a piece of fiction that you’ll be unable to put down, and be thinking about long after you’ve finished, this is the book you’re looking for.