I am a sucker for stories about peoples’ lives: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is my favorite book, and Forrest Gump is my favorite movie. The Time Traveler’s Wife does not disappoint; not only does this novel chronicle the lives of Clare Abshire and Henry DeTamble, but it does so tastefully, imaginatively, and, despite the science fiction aspect of the novel’s central theme, believably.
Henry suffers from a genetic disorder that causes him to time-travel, unexpectedly leaving his present and arriving in different times and places in his life, naked; as a result, he spends most of his time pick-pocketing, searching for clothes, and running from the police. It is only when, in his mid-30s, Henry is able to travel back to his wife Clare’s childhood that he is finally safe. From the ages of 6 to 18, Clare secretly meets her future husband in her backyard, hiding him from her family and getting to know a little more about him with each visit.
When they finally meet again in their 20s, Henry has no knowledge of Clare, although Clare has grown up with Henry. The book chronicles their lives together; the frustrations of time travel on Clare’s end, and the excitement on Henry’s. They face many challenges, including the fear of the unexpected, problems with conceiving a child, family struggles, and ultimately, the grave consequences of time travel.
This was Niffenegger’s debut novel; her second novel came out last year. Not only was this novel beautifully-written and fascinating, but it really made me reflect on aspects of my own life and how I can better appreciate what I have and accept the things that I don’t. This is a must-read (and not a “chick” novel, even if the 2009 movie version is)!