The Time Traveler’s Wife (by first-time novelist Audrey Niffenegger) was our book club book this month. Given the hubbub about the movie, we were all pretty excited to read it.

And I missed book club. Again. I had a good excuse, though. Visiting family trumps almost everything.

Book club book meant that, even though I finished this book two days after by book club buddy dropped it off, I had to wait and wait to post anything about it. Especially because I wouldn’t actually be at book club to talk about it. Kind of lousy to read the book club book and discuss the book club book (here), all before book club actually occurs.

So I’m safe, now. In fact, I wrote all this out days ago, and scheduled the blog to post on Saturday. (I couldn’t wait.)

Short review: excellent book. You should read it. But have tissues handy. And choose your reading time wisely. If you’re an Army wife and your husband is on a deployment overseas, put this book aside for a while.

Long review: Simply, The Time Traveler’s Wife is a story about waiting.

If you really want to get into it, it’s also a story about a girl and a boy in love, dealing with the challenges of being in love. The tricky part is that the guy travels through time. The really tricky part is that his time travel is involuntary.

So their timelines are all kinds of complex.

For example: the first time she meets him, Clare is a child. She comes across a naked man (nothing “travels” with him, including clothes or money) in a field near her family home. Henry knows who Clare is. She has never seen him before, and is freaked out.

Henry continues to visit Clare throughout her childhood. But Henry’s traveling timeline isn’t linear. So one visit he might be 37, and the next visit he might be 25.

I told you it’s tricky.

Henry’s first meeting with Clare is when he’s in his late twenties. She spots him in a library (?) and knows who he is, a large portion of his history, and (this is the kicker, for him) that they’re going to get married some day. In HER timeline, she’s known him since she was a kid. In HIS timeline, he hasn’t started “traveling” to her childhood home yet and has no idea who she is.

Yeah.

It was an interesting book. And well written.

At the same time, it was a difficult read. The book dwells on separation. It’s really not about the time they spend together, although that’s an integral part of their story. Waiting seems to be what it’s all about. First, Clare waits for Henry to show up. As the story continues, it’s Henry waiting to get back to Clare. The longer they live together the more complex it gets for them, because Henry begins to travel “forward” with some frequency. And they both know that someday he doesn’t come back.

So WHAT a joy to be reading a book that addresses my deepest fear.

Yeah, yikes.

Then there’s the multiple miscarriages, which tie in with the waiting and the fear of being alone (or leaving your loved one alone). I think the differences in emotion between the husband and wife, especially a couple where the wife is in danger of being left alone, are incredibly well-written. The wife is desperate for a child, for some tangible, lovable, human representation of her relationship with her husband. And the husband understands, but his wife’s physical safety increasingly becomes his main concern. It’s a downward spiral. The more he urges her to knock it off, so she doesn’t die before him, the more desperate she becomes.

Right. It’s a heavy book.

It’s interesting, it’s believable (which is a surprise, given the plot device), and it’s lovely. Their commitment to each other is what gets them through some incredibly difficult challenges. I like stories about strong relationships, and this one is titanium.

Ultimately, however, this story is a tragedy. And I don’t deal well with tragedies.

That’s why my short review is what it is. I’m glad I read it, because it was excellent. But I don’t anticipate reading it again. And I’m pretty sure the movie is not in my future, either.

Time Traveler’s Wife
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