Elise Reviews- The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Henry DeTamble is a time traveler. Due to a rare genetic disease he has the ability to travel in and out of his past and future. It would the most amazing talent in the world…if he could control where he went. Or when he disappeared into time. Or if he was able to take his clothes with him and if it didn’t make him ill whenever he traveled. The time traveling life is an incredibly lonely one. That is, until he meets Clare.

Clare Abshire is a fairly average girl. She grew up privileged, in a big house with a cook and nanny. She likes to read, and draw, and paint. And she is in love with a man who travels through time. When Clare first meets Henry she is six years old and Henry is thirty-six, but Clare is patient and she will wait nearly 20 years to catch up with Henry “in time”.

The Time Traveler’s Wife had been on my “To Read” list for years before I finally got to it last month. I am so glad I finally had a chance to read it, because this book was really lovely. I decided to listen to the audio version, which I downloaded from OverDrive onto my phone. My original intent was to listen to The Time Traveler’s Wife during my commute to work but I soon found myself listening to it on my break, while doing housework, before I went to sleep, and any other time I could sneak a few minutes. Audrey Niffenegger uses beautiful, poetic language in this novel and listening to the audiobook often felt like listening to someone recite poetry. She also does a wonderful job at using a science fiction concept in a work of literary fiction. Time travel can be confusing but Niffenegger does a great job setting the parameters and creating context for how it works in this particular story.

Perhaps my favorite element of The Time Traveler’s Wife was the love story. Henry and Clare withstand both mundane and supernatural obstacles in their marriage and their love always comes out stronger in the end. The Time Traveler’s Wife will appeal to some science fiction fans, but it is a love story at its core. Niffenegger explores some of the darker consequences of time travel but there is always Henry and Clare’s love for one another in the background, shedding light. Their story took me on an emotional roller coaster but ultimately left me with a feeling of hope. I was utterly captivated from start to finish and I gave this novel a 4 out 5 stars on GoodReads. There were some things I took issue with that led me to reserve that last, fifth, star but I certainly enjoyed this and would absolutely recommend it. If you do read it, take your time. This story is over 500 pages and is laden with character development, as opposed to a fast moving plot. If, however, you were not as late to the party as I was and have already read and loved The Time Traveler’s Wife then I have some suggestions for you:

Her Fearful Symmetry, Audrey Niffenegger

Her Fearful Symmetry is the story of twins Valentina and Julia. When their English aunt passes away due to cancer she leaves her London flat to her twin nieces.  Although they never met their aunt they know that they shared something very important with her, she was also a twin- a twin to their mother. Her Fearful Symmetry bends the rules of science little more gregariously than The Time Traveler’s Wife and is much more paranormal. Although the plot is a little stranger, Niffenegger uses the same beautiful and poetic language and if that was one of your favorite features of The Time Traveler’s Wife you are likely to enjoy this novel as well.

The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey

The Snow Child takes place in the harsh Alaskan frontier in 1920. Jack and Mabel have sold all their possessions and moved to the untamed territory in the hopes of starting a new life. But the vast frozen lands are unforgiving and it is not the dream life they had imagined- that is until they meet the Snow Child. I recommend this title to fans of The Time Traveler’s Wife because, much like that novel, it is character-driven and best read slowly in order to absorb the beautiful imagery. The story of Jack and Mabel and the Snow Child is over the span of many years and shows the ups and downs of the main couple’s marriage. This story also features elements of fantasy and folklore that enhance the setting without overpowering the plot and the character’s stories. Just like The Time Traveler’s Wife it will take you an emotional roller coaster but will ultimately leave you feeling hopeful.