The Time Traveler’s Wife: A Review


A Story That Leaves You Thinking

Being the sort of person who can’t go to bed without reading a book, I spend half my salary on books every month. While my mother continues to yell at me for the same, she hasn’t been able to put a stop to it. And so I now secretly order books and stack them up in my cupboard even before she find out.

While I mostly prefer a light read, the book that I picked up this week—The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger—threw me into a perplexing scenario right from the first page.

It’s a story about time traveler Henry and his wife Clare. Henry’s travels are a result of a genetic disorder that causes him to disappear from his present and appear in his past or future. But mind you, this is not a book about Henry’s time travels. While these travels make for the major plot of the book, The Time Traveler’s Wife is about Henry and Clare’s love for each other.

In today’s time when every budding writer seems to think that he or she can write a love story, Audrey in this book brings out a completely different side of love altogether. Love here is about the smell of your lover’s hair. It’s about staring at the stars and talking to the beloved. It’s about the things that cause pain when you realize they are beyond your reach because of the distance and the circumstances. Henry, thanks to his condition, misses being woken up by his wife, the Sunday morning love-making and his wife’s food.

“I hate to be where she is not, when she is not. And yet, I am always going.

Simply put much of Henry and Clare’s story is about their longing—for each other and for a child.

“I go to sleep alone, and wake up alone. I take walks. I work until I’m tired. I watch the wind play with the trash that’s been under the snow all winter. Everything seems simple until you think about it. Why is love intensified by absence?” 

However, there is one particular theme in the book that has left me to think. Often times the reader finds Clare and Henry sitting in the Meadow talking about Free Will, but in my opinion the story is devoid of this will. Clare’s life is so twisted because Henry has always been there to guide and mentor her. He first meets her when she is thirteen and lets her know that they are meant to be together. Yes they do fall in love with each other, but there is no free will involved, is it? In fact, Clare refuses to date anyone when she is in high school, because she knows she is going to marry Henry in the future. Not to mention that she literally spends her entire life waiting for Henry, even after she turns 80 and he is dead.

“Chaos is more freedom; in fact, total freedom. But no meaning. I want to be free to act, and I also want my actions to mean something.” 

Even so, Audrey’s The Time Traveler’s Wife is original, something that one doesn’t find in many romantic novels that tend to be more imitative. As a novel that deals with the questions of time, fate, free will, family, death and most importantly, with love, The Time Traveler’s Wife makes for a perfect read.

If you don’t mind reading a 450 page book and have some time to kill this weekend, do grab a copy a soon as possible.

Shraddha Jandial

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