Saturday, April 7, 2012

BTT/Book Review: The Time Traveler’s Wife

This week’s Booking Through Thursday question comes from Bookish Sarah (as usual via Deb):

If someone asked you for a book recommendation, what is the FIRST book you’d think to recommend (without extra thought)?

I didn’t have time to write this post until today, but the first book that came to mind when I read the question was the one I’m currently reading, even though I have not yet finished it: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (2003).

I’m listening to it as audio book in Swedish, borrowed from the library. What made me add it to my to-read-list in the first place was repeated references to it in various BTT answers. I guess my recommendation would depend a bit on who’s asking; but disregarding  that aspect, I’ll just give some of my own reasons why I’m finding it worth reading.

Henry has a genetic disorder which makes him travel in time. In his adult life he is a librarian. His wife Clare, eight years younger, is an artist. When Henry first meets Clare he is 28, she is 20. However, Clare first met Henry when she was six, and Henry in his thirties. The time confusion is mind-boggling; usually, each time Henry appears in Clare’s life until they meet in the their mutual now and get married, the age difference between them varies. For Clare, Henry has “always” been popping in and out of her life; while Henry does not get to meet Clare in her childhood until he is already married to her as an adult.

Henry also timetravels to other places and contexts and sometimes co-exists with himself at another age. His time travelling is involontary, and when it occurs, he can’t bring anything with him, so always lands naked with nothing, and often ends up in quite impossible situations, having to try to explain things to people who don’t believe him. Along the way a few more people than Clare come to know about his condition though, including a physician who is into genetic research.

Although the time-travelling frame of the story suggests science fiction, the focus is really on relationships, and especially between Henry and Clare. I would say it is not just a love-story either though, but also a story of how to live with whatever life or fate throws at us. It is about being utterly vulnerable and learning to live with that vulnerability, whatever the cause of it. It is about clinging to hope and giving in to reality all in one. On the one hand Now is all we’ve got; and on the other, we carry all our “nows” within us, whatever age we are.

So it is about dealing with memories, and the Now, and knowledge, and a future which holds both things we know nothing about, and things that we may know something about even if still not every detail (like when living with a serious disease). It’s about trust and fear; truth and lies; life and death; reality vs dreams; and wanting to but not always being able to protect either ourselves or those we love. It’s about a whole lot of things like that; and that’s why I’d recommend it.

Happy Easter to you all!

CIMG7697-001

A book-treasure chest displayed  at the Home & Garden Fair I visited a couple of weeks ago. I loved the way the light hit it.

 

 

12 comments:

  1. sounds confusing keeping up with the years. i like some time traveling books, not all. love that book chest.

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  2. I have heard so much good about this book, yet it remains on my shelf unread. One day soon I really need to find the time to read it. I loved the movie!

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  3. I enjoyed reading it. I saw a lot of negative reviews about it when I was reading it, but it seems that people thought they were getting a science fiction novel when it's really not about time travel so much as it's about relationships, like you said. For me, I connected with it because clare goes through when I go through when my husband goes out to sea, the being alone and having to deal with unexpected moments when he leaves.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

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  4. I don't think this is my kind of reading. I know you mentioned it is not Sci/Fi but, it sounds close to it, and I really am not a Sci/Fi fan. I am glad you are enjoying it. We are all different, so what I love you may hate, that is one of the reasons I don't like recommending books.

    Thanks for the visit today.

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  5. I have read the reviews of this book, and I think I recently bought it. Why don't I know? I have gotten lots and lots of book samples on my iPad, and I went out and bought quite a few at the end of the winter...I just go wild in a book store. I also love the iPad, it is a reader as well, did you say you have an e-reader, I don't remember. Anyway, you an download a sample of most books, which gives you the first chapter or so and an overview. For free

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  6. Nice photo of the chest, and I will consider reading this book some day.
    Off the top of my head, I would recommend Major Pettigrew's Last Stand.

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  7. I chose Anthony Trollope's The Warden but I agree The Time Traveller's Wife was brilliant and one of my all-time favourites.

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  8. Oh! That treasure chest of books is so appealing! Did you find anything in there to take home? Or was it yours in the first place?
    The question regarding which book to recommend is not easy to answer. I suppose it depends on who's asking. I certainly would not recommend exactly the same book to everyone, I would keep in mind what I know of the asker's taste and interests (and, to an extend, their intellectual level).

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    1. No it's not my chest, it was part of a display for some shop. I did not investigate the contents in detail, it was the general idea that appealed to me (books can certainly be treasures!)

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  9. Interestingly I have started the Time Travellers Wife and abandoned it in Scotland possibly to be resumed. I think that it may be one of those books that is only appreciated when it's been finished. I tried to watch the movie but that didn't really hold my attention either and I missed most of it.

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  10. I was a little surprised this week to find that so many (also at the BTT site) took the question so seriously that they hesitated to give an answer at all! I just went with my most recent read that had me fascinated ;) If the same question comes up again in a year or two and I'll probably give a different answer. Thanks to all who gave suggestions, I'll try and remember to go back here next time I don't know what to read!

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  11. I loved this book - thought it was fabulous on so many different levels.

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