The Time Traveler’s Wife
By Audrey Niffenegger

Rating: 5/5

I just finished reading this book by first time author Audrey Niffenegger. I thoroughly enjoyed her writing style. She has a nice voice, descriptive and enticing, and plenty of plot threads to keep you turning pages even when you start fighting sleep during those late night reading sessions.

The book is primarily about two people, Henry and Clare, who are friends and lovers. The catch is that Henry involuntarily time travels, and pops up anywhere in recent history sans clothing and usually feeling sick. This causes lots of interesting, as often good as bad, situations depending on where/when Henry appears. We find him visiting Clare as a child while he is middle aged, popping into his childhood bedroom and talking to himself, seeing intense moments in his life over and over from different angles.

The situation reminds me of the Cassandra Complex. If Henry sees something in the future, he knows that no matter what he does that’s the way it will turn out. As a result he guards this knowledge carefully, as sharing it with others in the “present” can lead to great frustration as they try to undo the future. The book goes on in an appropriate level of detail to describe the scientific rationales for his involuntary temporal leaps, but not in so much detail that you can pick it apart.

Beyond the time travel aspect, the book describes a touching and, for me quite familiar, love story between Henry and Clare. The characters are highly accessible and believable, and you experience their joy and sorrow as you read.

The book also lends itself to great conversation and it even has a couple pages of discussion questions in the back. While most of them are a little on the obvious side, they point out certain themes throughout the book that are fun to discuss.

All this translates to a rating of 5 out of 5. Niffenegger manages to combine the great American novel with a science fiction story, and it works. It works well. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy, at the very least you will find it interesting, if not a truly cathartic experience.