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Customer Review

72 of 107 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Words Fail Me !, 8 April 2005
This review is from: The Time Traveler's Wife (Paperback)
I know this is a subjective viewpoint but I believe this book to be one of the worst novels I have ever read. Why did I read it ? Simply because I set myself the mildly diverting task of reading this year's Richard and Judy shortlist of 10 books, contesting the Best Read award.
I'm nearly through now and have really enjoyed most of the books, especially "The Promise of Happiness","Cloud Atlas", The Shadow of the Wind" and "An American Boy" all of which I'd happily recommend. This book, however, I only read to the end out of a sense of duty.
The plot uses the device of time travel, which of course is hardly a startling innovation. Time travel here is used to define a relationship between Henry and Clare, with Henry apparently being the only time traveller in the world. The plot is very repetitious and I for one, found it boring.It endlessly uses the pattern of Henry disappearing, leaving a pile of clothes, only for him to pop up naked elsewhere. I'm sure a horse and cart could be driven through the logic of the plot, which to my mind is manipulated for emotional effect.
Henry and Clare are scarcely believable as characters. Neither ever seems to work in the commonly accepted meaning of the word, especially Henry, who manages to hold a job down in a prestigious library while constantly disappearing or running around the stacks naked. The two are, of course, prodigiously blessed people. Clare's family is very rich, while Henry's parents are world class musicians and on top of that the two protagonists are clearly superior people as they bat quotes from famous writers back and forth in whatever language they happened to write in. I found it all deeply unconvincing, both the characterisation and the world Henry and Clare are supposed to inhabit. The sense of real people living real lives is completely absent from this novel.
I won't go into any details about the final third of the book except to say that it inevitably descends into bathos and I found the emotion both forced and false. I feel I am perhaps the wrong person to review this book, since maybe you need a background in women's romantic literature to enjoy it. If this is considered a good example of the genre, then I can only add that I am pleased it is not one I am familiar with. I know a lot of people seem to love this book, which of course, is not necessarily the same thing as saying it must be a good novel, but presumably it is possible to hold a different opinion. Not a book I'd recommend to anyone.
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Location: England

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