Author: Audrey Niffenegger
Title: The Time Traveler’s Wife
Narrator: Fred Berman and Phoebe Strole
Publication Info: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books
It’s worthwhile to sometimes go back and reread one of the books that made my list of Favorite Books of All Time. It’s been 14 years since I’ve read this book, and I’ll append my original review at the end of this post.
A lot of the things that made me love this book in the first place are still quite appealing. I love stories of time travel, and that this one has a protagonist whose travel through time is uncontrollable and unexplained makes an interesting twist and creates a great structure for the book. I also like that he’s a librarian who likes punk rock, because you know, that’s like me. There were a number of things I forgot from my previous reading as well, most importantly Kimmy, Henry’s childhood landlady who acts a surrogate mother and is an absolutely wonderful character I’ll never forget again. Having become a fan of Doctor Who in recent years, it’s interesting to revisit this book and see how it influenced the story of River Song and the Doctor.
Of course, there are a lot of creepy things about this book, such as an adult man visiting his future wife as a child and establishing a relationship with her (arriving naked to boot). I do credit Niffenegger for taking a direct approach to these uncomfortable issues rather than shying away from it. Another thing I realize now that I must’ve been clueless about as a younger reader is that it plays with the romance novel genre as well. But that’s one of the things that keeps this on my favorite books is that it works on so many levels, science fiction and fantasy, realism and magic, romance and for lack a better term “manliness.”
The voice performances of Fred Berman and Phoebe Strole as Henry and Claire add a lot to this audiobook version of the book as well.
Ok, here’s my short review from 2004:
This book reads almost as if Jasper Fforde took a serious turn. Almost. Complements to Niffenegger for adroitly managing the timeline, both in the story world and how she presents it to the reader. I also admire that she made Henry real by not always having him likable. Yet you can sympathize with him for what he has to do to survive with his chronological problems. I find it interesting that he travels in both time and in space, yet he never seems to travel too far from Chicago or Clare’s childhood home. Curious also that he always bounces back to the “present,” never jumping onward to another time or just staying there for a long time. But I’m quibbling, not with the book, but with the thoughts that occur as I ruminate this brilliant novel. Over 500 pages and I read this in less than a day.