The Time Traveler’s Wife (A Book Review)

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Note:  I haven’t seen the movie yet!  No spoilers please!

Time travel!  As a citizen of two countries, on opposite sides of the world, I have often wished for it.  But it’s not so much fun for Henry De Tamble, the “Time Traveler” in this story.  A Chicago librarian with a science-fiction disease called “Chrono Displacement” disorder, he has no control over it.  Without warning he disappears and finds himself in the past or future, naked and vulnerable to whatever conditions or circumstances he suddenly drops into.  And, of course, he has little hope of satisfying the people around him by his explanation.  This being such a fascinating premise, and Henry’s adventures so engrossing, I wondered initially why this book is entitled “The Time Traveler’s Wife”.

The story is told, alternately, from the perspectives of both Henry and Clare.  And, because of the time travel, backward and forward, it requires that the reader always pay close attention to details of the date and the ages of the protagonists.  And yet, because it follows the chronology of Clare’s life, it is easier to follow than you might imagine.  That explains the title. And it’s a very touching love story.

The story covers Clare’s life from the age of 6 to 82, and explores all the themes of a woman’s life at each and every stage.  (Of course, that’s something that interests me, as you will know if you’ve looked at my “Programs” page.)  We follow Clare from the dreamy child in a hurry to grow up, anxiously anticipating the future, to the young woman longing for love, leaving home and family, waiting impatiently for her partner, finding him, and occasionally losing him.  Along the way it explores the themes of love, friendship, parenting, loss, destiny and, of course time.

Each of us so often lives in the past, or looks to the future.  But “Time is nothing”, says Henry.  We may not be able to choose our destiny.  The past is done, and the future beyond our reach.  The best we can do is make the very most of each and every moment.