Thursday, May 17, 2007

If This Book Doesn't Make You Cry, Your Heart is an Utter Abyss of Blackest Despair

The Time Traveler's Wife
Audrey Niffenegger

Damn you Audrey Niffenegger!!

Damn you for making me cry! Damn you for writing an excellent first novel! Damn you for having a last name I’m afraid to pronounce for fear of sounding like a bigoted asshole!! Damn you for writing an excellent book that deserves every ounce of the praise it's received! Damn you for writing an amazing book that should have been mine! Nevermind I didn't think of it!

Damn you, damn you, damn you!!!

I coulda been somebody

Ok, I'm done now.

I’ve heard a lot about The Time Traveler's Wife. A lot. But when I hear a lot of “Oh my god, you, like, HAVE to read The Time Traveler's Wife, it is SO GOOD” over and over again, it usually means I’ll hate it. Ditto when the cover blurbs proclaim the novel is "a soaring celebration," "beautifully crafted," and "dazzlingly imaginative." So I began The Time Traveler's Wife with some trepidation.

I needn't have worried. The Time Traveler's Wife is intelligent, well written, and beautiful. Yeah, I cried, and what? That doesn't tell you much, though; I've been known to cry at a McDonald's commercial (the one in which an elderly man proves he is still a productive member of society by working the cash register as customers and fellow employees alike smile fondly upon him). Don't judge me.

Back to the novel. Henry DeTamble is a time traveler. It's a genetic condition, one over which he has no control. Stressful situations cause him to lose his grip on the current time. While he has been known to visit his future, he mostly visits (and revisits) moments from his past. When traveling through time, he can take nothing with him, and as a consequence, he finds himself naked and exposed in some unknown where and when.

Such is his condition when his wife, Clare, meets him for the first time, when she is six (although Henry himself is much older and won't meet her himself for over a decade). Sound confusing? It would be, in less-capable hands. Thankfully Niffenegger is quite adept at preventing the logistics of Henry's time travel from becoming a difficult distraction.

Despite all the interest generated by Henry's time traveling, this is ultimately Clare's book, Clare who is defined by her waiting for Henry: as a child, she waits for his next visit; as an adult, she waits for his return. While the novel has its flaws (I'd like more of Clare at the end of the book, and I found some sex scenes a bit unnecessary), I really can't complain about much.

In a nutshell: Well written, funny, thought-provoking.

Bibliolatry Scale: 5.5 out of 6 stars


Lesley said...

Well, I guess my heart's an abyss (good thing to know!) since I was bitterly disappointed with this book. But I'm well aware I'm in the minority on that!

Literary Feline said...

I enjoyed reading your review of this one. I have been reluctant to read it for the same reason you felt trepediation, but it sounds like those fears are groundless.

acquisitionist said...

Your review may have helped with something. You see, I can't remember the last time I cried in a book. It's really getting to me, so I'm in search of a real tear-jerker. I found your site through Dewey by the way, and will be back again!

Matt said...

I've got this book on my TBR list and am looking forward to reading it. Always nice to see a good review of a book I'm interested in.

Bibliolatrist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bibliolatrist said...

Don't worry, Lesley - I'll make an exception for you because you are one of my favorite fellow book bloggers :)

Anyway, I'm surprised I liked this one as much as I did, but I know not everyone agrees with me! I'd be interested in hearing what the rest of you think when you're finished!

Dewey said...

I just absolutely loved this book!

Lisa said...

I have this one in my TBR. I was a but surprised by the length of it, so put it off, perhaps I'll move it up- along with the half dozen Picoults that I haven't read a one of.

Josette said...

Hey there, thanks for dropping by my blog.

I've read reviews on this book and most claim that it's very good. With your very passionate review, I guess it must be an extremely interesting book! I'll read it one day and see it for myself. =)

Anonymous said...

I cried too. This book is brilliant.