THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE Book by Audrey Niffenegger [Review]

The Time Traveler's Wife book

Once in a while I read a book that is so original, touching, or thought-provoking that it stays with me long after I’ve finished reading. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is the perfect example of a book like this because it is all of these things and more. It tells the love story of Henry and Clare and how they maintain a relationship while Henry is spontaneously traveling to different points in time. The book begins with Henry meeting Clare for the first time when he is twenty-eight and she is twenty, but she first met him when she was six years old and he was in his thirties. This may seem impossible, but, due to a genetic disorder, Henry randomly travels through time. During one of his early visits, Henry tells Clare that in the future they are married, and thus begins Clare’s life of waiting for Henry to visit, waiting to meet him in real time, waiting for him to return from time traveling. Clare struggles with feeling trapped by knowing what happens in the future, like she can’t make her own choices because it’s all pre-determined. Clare and Henry face many interesting obstacles because of their very unique situation.

Even though the book is called The Time Traveler’s Wife, to me, it’s all about Henry. Henry has Chrono-Displacement Disorder, which means during times of stress he will uncontrollably travel to a different time, usually to a meaningful point in his own life. He can’t take anything with him, so he ends up in his new location naked and disoriented. Henry is a librarian at the Newberry Library in Chicago, although I don’t understand how he keeps his job when he is always disappearing and leaving a puddle of clothing behind. He’s well read, into punk rock, and has learned how to pick locks, fight, and do anything to survive.

I love science fiction, love stories, time travel, interesting characters, punk rock, libraries, and Lake Michigan, and The Time Traveler’s Wife combines all these things into one awesome book. When Clare is a child, she and Henry always meet in a meadow outside her house on Lake Michigan, and I just loved reading about this idyllic setting (full disclosure: I’m from Michigan and a sucker for anything set in our beautiful state). I really loved everything about this book, but the time travel aspect particularly fascinated me. Yes, at times all the jumping around in time is confusing, but you just have to go with it. You might think it all sounds very implausible, but the author just makes it all seem so real and believable that you really become invested in the story.

The Time Traveler’s Wife movie is coming out later this summer and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will be half as good as the book (you can watch the trailer here). I think this story has the potential to be a great movie, but I’m not getting my hopes up too much. This book is hard to classify because it’s part science fiction, part romance, and part literary fiction. So basically, if you are a fan of fiction and like a good love story, this book should be in your library.

Buy The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger on Amazon by clicking here.

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  • David

    Kristen, what a brilliant review. You are making me want to read it again!!

    I really enjoyed this book, it keeps your interest the whole way through. I found henry an awesome character and although it was a little weird when he was in his late 20s and her just a child it had me waiting for that unchangeable first ‘real’ meeting.

    I would recommend this book to anyone, I am not normally a sucker for a love story when reading, but with everything else going on it kept my interest.


  • Kristen

    Thanks David! I’m pretty excited to see the movie now. the trailer looks good.

  • Sandie

    I am so excited to see the movie, but I wonder if I should read the book first. What do you think?

  • Kristen

    Sandie – I’d recommend reading the book before you see the movie. If you read it after, you’ll already know how it ends. i think you will really like the book!

  • Sandie

    I think I’m going to go buy it tomorrow then. I’ll let you know how I liked it once I’m done :-)

  • Ruth

    Kristen, I loved your review. It’s been some time since I’ve read this book so I’ll have to read it again before seeing the movie.

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