Book Review: “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 at 7:03 am

How would you introduce yourself to someone you’ve known almost your entire life, if they’d never met you before in their entire life?

Such was the predicament in which Clare Abshire finds herself in The Time Traveler’s Wife.

I know, I know. You’ve all read the book–or at least seen the movie. All this is old news to you.

I had done neither, and it was certainly not old news to me. Not having seen the movie or heard a plot summary of the book (or been a fan of science fiction), I found the entire premise of the book (apart from the hint that is the title, that is) to be completely novel.

The novel follows Clare and Henry (the time traveler) in their various interactions with one another, jumping back and forth from time to time.

Clare simply moves in a linear fashion through time, meeting a middle aged Henry while still in elementary school. Henry, on the other hand, travels spastically through time, turning up (completely nude) in all sorts of places.

So the middle aged Henry might be time traveling to a certain time and meeting the young Clare, while at the same time his young self is going about his day to day life completely unaware that the time traveling older Henry is also on earth at that specific time.

It’s a bit to wrap the mind around (at least for me).

Anyhow, at some point, Clare and Henry actually meet in “real time”–not as a freak accident of Henry’s completely unplanned time travels. When they meet, they have sex. Lots and lots of sex.

Which brings me to the major drawback of this novel. It is absolutely stuffed with sex (I can’t decide whether it’s gratuitous or not. Certain scenes seem to play a role in the development of the characters and plot, but others just don’t. Not that the sex is particularly graphic–it’s just omnipresent.)

If it weren’t for that, I would have completely loved this book.

The story was engaging and well-told. The characters were interesting. And the occasional metaphysical questions the characters raised (such as: can a person traveling into the past change the present and the future? Is the universe determined or chaotic?) were intriguing to this particular mind. But the sex. I’m just not sure if I can really recommend the sex.


Rating: 3? stars
Category:Women’s Fiction
Synopsis:Two people, one a time traveler and one not, find their lives inextricably intertwined–although somewhat oddly, since their life experiences (even of each other) rarely match up.
Recommendation: If it weren’t for the voluminous sex, I’d give this five stars hands down. It’s a well told story. However, I have to urge readers to exercise caution. Know your boundaries when it comes to gratuitous sex and decline if the ever-present sex in this novel is going to cause problems.


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Reader Comments (4):

  1. Barbara H. says:

    Thanks for this. I am one who hasn’t read the book nor seen the movie, but I remember when about every other blog was mentioning it. Sadly, I don’t remember any of them mentioning all the sex (though maybe I’ve just forgotten) and I do like to be forewarned about such things. I doubt I’ll pick this one up, but I appreciate an honest assessment of it.

  2. Definitely don’t think I’ll be reading this one. Glad to read your thoughts on it.

  3. Cassandra says:

    I agree completely with your review! I read the book before I knew there was going to be a movie. The story was completely engaging. Loved it! I was turned off by all of the sexual activity but had gotten too caught up in the plot to put it down. :( The story is absolutely wonderful. I wish the personal relationship between the characters had been a bit toned down, though.

    The movie isn’t nearly so graphic. However, the story is watered down and the ending is different. I was so excited about seeing the movie that I went to the theater to watch it. Later I checked it out from a Redbox free code to see if it would be any better watching it a second time since it had been months since I read the novel. Nope. The movie writers completely ruined it (nor did I like Clare’s character in the movie). If you liked the book, skip the movie. Really.

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