Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Time Traveller's Wife

I finished The Time Traveller's Wife (by Audrey Niffenegger) last night in bed. I can't remember crying so hard over a book for a long, long time. The first time I cried this much was when I was seven years-old, part-way through Charlotte's Web (when Wilbur cries because the other animals won't play with him). Then again when I finished The Last Battle (the final book in the Chronicles of Narnia), because I couldn't bear that it was over and there were no more stories to come.

This is a thoughtful, clever, deeply-detailed novel, and a magnificent time-travelling love story. The heroine is breathtakingly patient with an almost incredible ability to love the hero: it is his dilemma which is the point of the novel. Henry is a man who, in a manner beyond his control, time travels through his own life and slightly before. He arrives at his destinations naked and disoriented. It's a rough life and it takes its toll on him. On one of his journeys he comes across a six-year-old girl and it is she who is destined to be his wife; in fact where he has just come from - she already is. It's an incredible juggling act by the author and an intriguing mind-game for the reader, who is attempting to keep it all straight. The story is written in the first person (Henry and Clare take turns) and it's all present-tense, with the author providing a sub-head at the start of each section giving you the date and the couple's respective ages. Clare's life is all told in a straight chronological narrative, with poor Henry popping in and out at all different ages, until she meets him in the "present" and they start their more formal life together.

This is so hard to explain! But anyway, I do urge you to read it. JenStar lent it to me (she's such a good source of books, always got something interesting to suggest and it was her doing that got me reading the Diana Gabaldon Outlander series).

This is a great love story and it will break your heart!

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