Monday, October 29, 2007

The Time Traveler's Wife

This weekend I read my birthday present -- a book by Audrey Niffenegger. I tend not to read very often, because good novels get into my psyche and everything falls by the wayside while I finish it. So, I don't read, not because I don't like to read, but because I like it too much. Weird, I know.

Regardless, we went to Dallas this weekend for the birthday party of some friends' kids. That meant we had lots of travel time (unguilted reading time), and we would likely need to entertain ourselves a bit while our friends dealt with their life a kids during the weekend (more unguilted reading time), so I decided to start this one.

I actually started Thursday night before we left, and that's a good thing, because this story sucked me in, and I had no choice but to stay up late Saturday night finishing it up. Of course my husband was getting annoyed with me crying with the bedside table-lamp on until 1 in the morning, but it's his fault -- he gave me the book.

To give you the brief, no-spoilers-involved, rundown, we follow the story of a woman, Clare, and her time-traveling husband, Henry (no duh -- you get that from the title). But, unlike other time-travel stories, Henry didn't invent some crazy machine and use it to run all over the time continuum. Instead, Henry has a genetic disease that means when he gets stressed, his fight-or-flight response is extreme: he time travels. He tends to travel to times and places that are important to him, including times while his future wife is a young child and is growing up. One of the unfortunate issues with his type of time travel is that anything not a part of him is left behind -- clothes, shoes, etc. So, his young wife-to-be becomes a partner in getting him the necessities of life -- food, clothing, etc. It is a beautiful love story told from both points of view. We primarily follow Clare, as her story is easier as a linear story line, but Henry's story is woven in a very neat way, showing us his "linear" as the jumpy timeline where answers come before questions and some answers just shouldn't be given. He has a couple of great lines about 20 years ago and a few minutes ago being the same thing to him. It's an interesting take on two people being fated for each other, and as I mentioned before, it made me bawl my little eyes out for hours. Folks having trouble having kids might want to avoid this one, though I don't think any admonition of that sort would have stopped me from reading it.

And then I see that they are making a movie out of the story. I always love to see that a good story gets told to a larger audience, but I haven't decided what I think about making this particular one into a movie. Of course a lot will be lost, but I'm sure I'll have to see it -- to see if they faithfully render the duo I met this weekend when I was on a plane or supposed to be sleeping. But at least the laundry and dishes weren't being shirked while I read.


cat said...

you'll have to tell me how the movie compares! cause thats my issue with books made into movies...most times they aren't as good as the books.

mr. kyle said...

Wow, I'm surprised not only that you liked it, but that you had such an emotional response to it. That's very high praise. I read it some time ago, and while I agree that it's a welcomely fresh take on time travel, I didn't really connect with the story, but to each his own. It's my duty when saying I didn't really like a book to recommend one that I loved, so consider this my plug for The Corrections if I haven't given it already.

Heather said...

Really? You're surprised? A book with a significant portion about a wife that wants a baby and a husband that is so convinced that passing on his DNA is the worst thing he could do to a child? Maybe the parallels to my own raw emotions are just stronger on this side of the screen than they come through as I type.

And it really doesn't help that I have that whole empathy thing -- every story that's supposed to make a person cry will pretty much turn on the waterworks here. I'll think about The Corrections, Kyle, but I have a feeling you and I have very different taste in novels, so don't be offended if I don't read it or read it and don't like it.

mr. kyle said...

Well, let's just say that I didn't bring the same things to the book as you, and that I think what you're bringing makes it reach you in a way it couldn't possibly me. As for our differing taste, I have no doubt about it, but I'd argue that the corrections is very accessible and you'd relate to in very much the same way you did to this book because of your personal experience (there's a clinically depressed character and the account of his situation and what it's like to live with him is one of the most spot on descriptions of the issue I've ever seen). So feel free to hate it, but if you have the time it's worth a shot.

Heather said...

Fair enough. I've added it to my list at Amazon, and I'll keep you posted if/when I get to it.