November 6, 2011

The Time Traveler's Wife

There is no easy way to give a synopsis of this book. There’s, this is shocking, a lot of time traveling. Taking it roughly chronologically, Clare meets Henry when she’s a little girl. He time travels and spends time with her throughout her whole childhood, and she falls in love with him. When they finally meet when she’s in college, he is meeting her for the first time, because it was future self that had traveled back. (You can see how this can get confusing.) Either way, they fall in love and get married. They win the lottery, do very well in the stock market, and decide to try and have a kid. Many, many, many miscarriages later, they successfully give birth to a little girl named Alba. She takes strongly after her father and is also a time traveler.

A side note: In this book time traveling is a genetic condition. It’s somewhat akin to epilepsy. Henry’s doctor actually isolates the genes and makes time traveling mice that he uses to try and find a “cure.” Also, time travelers can’t take anything but themselves through time. This means they show up naked a lot.

Continuing on, Henry and Clare, despite a lot of heart break while trying to have a baby and a lot of tough situations caused by time traveling, are very much in love. Their happiness, however, is short lived. When Alba is five Henry time travels and ends up naked in January in Chicago. By the time he gets back to the present he’s hypothermic and his feet are so frostbitten they have to be amputated above the ankles. This is very bad for a time traveler. Showing up naked means that you very often have to run for your life.

When Henry is 43, after losing his feet, he travels back in time and shows up at Clare’s house during deer hunting season and is accidentally shot by her brother. He dies. Clare just about completely loses it. The book ends with a brief glimpse of some of Henry’s stolen moments with an older Alba courtesy of dual time traveling and a tantalizing moment when Henry travels forward to Clare’s old age and sees her one last time.

Other Thoughts:
  • While the movie is very rarely better than the book, in this case, the movie is still good. It actually follows the book pretty closely. I can see why they made certain changes for the sake of the movie, though they still managed to keep the flavor of the book. To be fair, I saw the movie first. Usually I am more forgiving of the movie when I read the book after I see it.
  •  It was so nice to read a love story that shows how strong and good love can be despite dramatic obstacles. So often I am yelling at characters in books, movies, and TV shows who, when faced with the slightest little obstacles, just give up on their love. You’re moving away? I guess we have to break up! That is not real life. I can tell you from experience that when you love someone you fight for that person.
  • This segues nicely into my next point. Being married to a time traveler apparently has some uncanny resemblances to being married to an Air Force pilot. They both leave suddenly and unexpectedly. You don’t necessarily know where they are or how long they’ll be gone. You live a strange double life in which you both do and do not have a husband. (A physically present husband. No hanky panky going on.) I am, however, quite thankful that of the two I picked the pilot.
  • I appreciated her take on the whole time traveling causing paradoxes thing. The story, which was hard enough to follow, would have been made impossible if every time he traveled he was in danger of causing some cosmic rift. Things that happened will happen and you can’t change them. All you can do is be present in the present and make the best decisions you can. Actually it’s wise advice for all of us.
  • Reading books with miscarriages in them have a whole new meaning for me now. I wish I could say that I would be as strong (or crazy) as Clare is to keep going, but I’m not sure I would be. I was just glad to know ahead of time that she would be rewarded with Alba.
  • I was a little disappointed with that last time traveling scene when he sees Clare as an old woman. We didn’t get any details at all, which left the reader free to her own interpretation. I just couldn’t decide if they held each other lovingly, if she told him about how wonderful her life had been or how awful, if Alba was still alive, if she had kids, if those kids were time travelers, etc. There were so many variables. Plus there was a sort of unsettling feeling that she had literally spent her life waiting for him. That made me sad to think that because she knew he was coming, she never moved on. If she chose to never remarry then I’d rather it be without feeling the obligation that she knew he was coming. The fact that she knew made it feel forced.

Definitely an excellent read that fell somewhere between chick lit and serious novel. It was a nice oasis before we get into some heavy stuff. Next on the list is technically Gone with the Wind. I couldn’t make it to the library quickly enough, however, so we are detouring down to number 84 and reading The Remains of the Day because I had it in the house.  Also, there should be another Bible posting soon. It’s slow going, but I’m doing it.

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