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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 29 January 2004
At first glance, this book might seem like a gimmick book - the idea of a man who time travels to various parts of his own, his wife's, and other's lifetimes seems like a plot gimmick that won't hold up beyond the first chapter, but it's not! In fact, the whole time-travelling thing is just a vehicle for one of the most moving, tragic love stories I have read in quite a while.
The Time Traveler's Wife tells the intruiging story of Clare and Henry, who meet when Claire is 6 and Henry is 36 but marry when Claire is 20 and Henry 28. It describes in dramatic detail, their unusual meeting, and their lives together and not. Their story is full of up and downs - Clare can never be sure when Henry will disappear next, where to, or when he will come back. This adds a certain fleetingness and intensity to their relationship, particularily the earlier parts. As the book continues, it adds more flesh and detail to the two central characters; their friends, family, and relationships before and after they met each other. This ensures that the characters are well developed and described - not just reflections of each other.
This book is beautifully written, poignant and incredibly moving - I would recommend it highly.
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on 16 July 2004
Bought this after browsing through people's book lists on this site (a great place to find new books!) and finally started reading it yesterday. And finished reading it. It's a massive book so that should give an indication of how much I enjoyed it!
Reading other reviews here should have already given you an idea of the story's content, so I suggest you do what I did and just buy it. I tried not to let myself be too influenced by the reviews here, other than by being convinced that I would enjoy it - and I was right. I really, really enjoyed it and read it on the outward and return journeys on the train (3 hours each way).
The story is highly original and told from the points of view of Clare and Henry at different points in their lives. This is quite confusing at times but you soon get used to it. What's different and intricate is that you're reading the story out of synch, because Henry can exist in different times as he time travels through his own history. This in itself makes for an intriguing read.
But for me - the crux of the story is about love. Call me an old (young actually) romantic but I just loved this aspect of the story. Before you assume anything, I'm not your typical chick-lit reader - in fact I avoid it like the plague - but this is not typical chick-lit. It's so moving and beautifully told that I had to try not to cry on the train, and spent a long time thinking about it after I'd finished.
I know this review doesn't really say much about the plot but that's because I really think you should buy it and read it with an open mind. Prepare to be entertained - you'll laugh, wonder, and probably cry.
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on 2 June 2005
I fell so deeply in love with the main character, Henry DeTamble that I was actually depressed for days after finishing this book! It is very rare that you read a book that totally immerses you. Audrey has developed characters that are so real in an emotional sense that they pull you on the journey they go through. I really felt the highs and lows that Henry experienced particularly the loneliness and isolation he often felt when 'leaping' through his own past and future. The relationships in the book are beautifully written and it is impossible not to connect with them. I loved the way that Audrey explored the different levels of Henry's relationship with Claire from guardian and father figure in her early childhood to lover and husband in her adult life. The beginning of the book was a bit complex but towards the end of it you wonder at the simplicity of it. I have found myself since finishing the book imagining and wondering what will become of the characters and implore Audrey to write a follow up.
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on 8 November 2004
I've never written a review before but felt that I just had to comment on this wonderful book.
This book moved me so much - I laughed and cried. I can't remember the last book that affected me so much. This is a huge book, both in terms of length and themes. It is a beautifully crafted elegy to love, longing and absence. The time travelling concept takes a little getting used to but this is what gives the novel its unique charm. I'm not a sci-fi fan at all but the author handles it with a lightness of touch. It is essentially a love story with a difference. Henry and Clare's relationship is portrayed so compassionately without ever being maudlin. The bitter sweet ending left me in floods of tears - it was as if Henry and Clare were people I knew. There have been a lot of comparisons to "The Lovely Bones". I loved that book too but "The Time Traveler's Wife" is still with me five days after finishing it. It is so rare to find a novel that is original, well written and unafraid of taking on some big themes. The only problem I have now is finding another book to match it!
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on 26 November 2005
I read the synopsis for this book many times and each time decided that it just wasn’t my cup of tea. But when I kept seeing rave reviews about this book curiosity got the better of me. So I bought it……and I loved it! I wouldn’t normally buy a book that mentions time travel as ‘science fiction’ books just don’t interest me. But The Time Traveller’s Wife doesn’t fit into the genre of science fiction anymore than it fits into the genre of a love story. But at the same time its both. Confused? I was too. All I can tell you for certain is that this is a highly addictive book. It will have you laughing one minute and give you a lump in your throat with emotion the next. It’s a real page-turner and I’ll be keeping an eye on Audrey Niffenegger in the future to see what else she has to offer.
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on 2 December 2005
I was lent this by a friend, and I actually thought that I might not enjoy it. I am often put off by American authors, and it had the look of either sci-fi or a wishy washy romance novel. It was neither. An extremely powerful novel that provides a beautiful portrayal of love under difficult circumstances, and people at different stages of their lives. I couldn't put it down, and was in tears at the end, even though you're prepared for what happened. A marvellous novel. I'm lucky I didn't judge by appearances and ignore it.
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on 21 August 2005
Let me start by saying that this is not the kind of book I would normally consider buying. It's a love story for gods sake! Why would I, a Tom Clancy, Steven Hawking, Film Studies text book, Terry Pratchett reading male get into reading a female centric love story for?
I bough the book because it had such good word of mouth, award nominations, I had just finished reading Cloud Atlas, and lets face it, finding it very cheap on the shelves of a well known supermarket!
It was only as once I had actually opened the cover started reading the book that I "got" the reason for the hype.
I could not put the book down, as I was constantly drawn to find out what would happen next to the two protagonist. The fact that the story was told through at least 3 strands of linear-ish time as seem from the point of view of only one of the characters made it even more interesting as you try to peace together in your head a timeline of events both backwards and forwards from the "now".
I even got into the emotional side of the book, as you are taken under the characters skin and find out what makes them tick and why. I really felt for the characters, their fractured, sometimes troubled relationship, and the contradictions that Henry's time travelling have for all the people Clare and Henry encounter during their lives.
I think because the theory and practice of time travel where considered so coherently as part of the plot, and not just as an excuse for the couples unusual relationship, that I really took to the book. It spoke to the scientist, the adventurer and the analyst in me, and allowed the love story to be part of the whole in a way I enjoyed and appreciated when I would not have normally done so.
A very good read, and enjoyably thought provoking.
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on 14 January 2005
This is a most entertaining and highly original book. It is essentially a love story involving Henry and Clare. Henry suffers from a genetic disorder which causes him to time travel against his will, locally, at random . Although he meets various people, including himself whilst time travelling and interacts with them, he cannot change the course of future events. Henry and Clare first meet whilst he is time travelling. He is in his forties and she is a child. They become friends and eventually meet up in real time and marry. They struggle to maintain their relationship despite Henry's sudden absences and erratic behaviour. I found it best not to try and put events into chronological order because it can be confusing at times. This does help the reader to empathise with Henry and Clare's struggle to maintain their relationship. An excellent read, I highly recommend this book!
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VINE VOICEon 10 April 2005
I bought this in hardback when it first came out after a review in The Guardian but only got round to reading it last week. I think, as a man, the romance aspect of the book put me off making a start but I'm glad I got over that idiotic misconception.
Let me say, this is a moving and powerful book. Ignore the time travel as 'science fiction', it's a skilfully used device to explore the meaning of fate, love, betrayal, destiny... you name it. If you find someone who thinks there's something wrong with the book, I suggest there's something wrong with them! You need a sense of romance and an imagination to enjoy this book. Don't read it if you want a linear narrative and believe that books shouldn't make you think.
The author foreshadows important plot points that, at first, you ignore but then find yourself remembering later until, eventually, you work out what's going to happen - in exactly the same way as the central characters do. It's masterful. The sense of doom that grows towards the end is frightening.
There's an overwhelming tenderness to the narrative and all the characters are entirely believable. Even poor Ingrid, lightly sketched at first, becomes someone you end up feeling dreadfully sorry for.
And there are moments of sublime comedy too.
I couldn't put this book down and after I finished it I simply sat and stared into space for a good half hour. Yesterday I saw someone dithering over it in a bookshop and wanted to say 'buy it! buy it!' I didn't need to - she did buy it. But my reaction made me realise that this is one of those books, like The Lovely Bones and Birdsong, that I will recommend to, and no doubt buy for, my friends.
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on 5 August 2008
After reading this book I found it difficult to decide if I had actually enjoyed it. The plot didn't seem to really unfurl until four hundred pages had passed; I didn't sympathise with any of the irritatingly perfect characters; and the ordinary prose would frequently jar when characters who were usually eloquent would suddenly slip into sexual colloquial (I originally gave examples, but amazon rejected my review!). Character development is one thing, but inconsistency is quite another, and it certainly seemed to fall into the latter category.

That said, I finished it, and considering the novel is comfortably over five hundred pages long, that does say something really positive about it, as many other novels would have fallen by the wayside. Something, though I know not what, kept me reading.

I believe that if the novel had had two hundred pages edited out it would have been a much pacier book and its limitations less noticeable. I know two hundred sounds an awful lot, and it is, but I genuinely don't think it would have hampered the story or the characterisation. As it is, the book is good, but you won't be missing out if you don't read it.
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