The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Title:  The Time Traveler’s Wife
Author:  Audrey Niffenegger
Release date:  May 27, 2004
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pages:  546
Genre:  Adult fiction
Source:  Personal copy

I first read The Time Traveler’s Wife about six years ago, when it was first published, and ever since then I have counted it among my favorite books.  I was a little nervous to reread it, because I know that at twenty years old, I was a much different person than I am now, and perhaps my enjoyment of it might have diminished with the years in between.  I needn’t have worried because the novel was everything I remembered it to be, and I loved it just as much, if not more than, I did the first time I read it!

If you are unfamiliar with the plot of this novel (hard to imagine anyone would be, but just in case…), the story centers around Clare and Henry.  Henry is a time traveler – although his time traveling is completely involuntary, sort of like a genetic disorder.  One minute he’ll be in his normal life, the next minute he will be sucked into the events of twenty years ago, for example.  And when he’s back in time, he’s completely a whole person – the people there can see him, talk to him, touch him, etc.  Anyway, Clare meets Henry for the first time when she is a kid – he time travels into her backyard – and in Henry’s present, he and Clare are married.  So Clare effectively knows Henry her entire life, and she knows from a young age that she is going to marry him.  Henry meets Clare for the first time in his present at age twenty-six.  It sounds confusing, but Niffenegger makes it flow really well, so it’s not confusing at all when you’re reading about it.

This novel really is the ultimate love story.  It is a tale of epic love, of love that knows no bounds, of love that literally never dies, of two people destined to be together regardless of the hell they have to go though (individually and as a couple) to make that happen.  The way their love changes and grows over time and goes from innocent first-time love to a mature and stable marriage is a joy to read about.

Having read this novel twice now, I feel that I KNOW these characters.  I feel like they are a part of my life, like we were friends once or something.  This will give you a good idea of how well they are written, about how realistic Henry and Clare are in this story.  Because their story felt so real to me, I must admit that I bawled like a baby for the last 100 pages of the novel.  I haven’t cried like that while reading a book in a long time.  This book just does that to me.

Anyway, I still love this book.  If you haven’t read it yet, please do.  Whether you love or hate it, I want to know your feelings and why!  Because seriously, folks, this is one amazing novel.  Please read it for yourself to find out why.

49 thoughts on “The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger”

  1. I think the main reason why I loved this book was because it actually portrays intimacy – the beautiful and the ugly, the ups and downs, everything. Most love stories focus on a couple getting together and close the curtain once that has been achieved, but here we get to see Claire and Henry through all the stages of their relationship. And the result couldn’t be more stunning. I need to re-read this as well. It’s actually only been two years since I read it, but it’s one I want to revisit again and again.

    PS: I love the blog’s new look!

    1. I completely agree with you Nymeth. Perhaps what makes Clare and Henry so real to me is that the reader witnesses the reality of their relationship – like you said, not just the falling in love part but the actual marriage, the actual stuff that happens in a long-term relationship.

      About the blog’s look – thank you! I can’t stop changing my theme (I seriously have changed it about 10 times this year alone) but I REALLY like this one so I’m thinking it’ll stick around for awhile. 🙂

  2. I just read My Name Is Memory and I think that book has the same feel to it. Although I didn’t cry at the end of Memory. I was sobbing over Claire and Henry…I don’t know that I could bear to re-read the book!

    1. LOL I cried more the second time I read it than the first, I think – maybe because I had fallen in love with the characters even MORE having read it a second time.

      I keep seeing My Name is Memory but neglecting to pick it up. Maybe I’ll get to it one day…

  3. I read this book a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. There were times that I felt terribly confused, but I think that element added to the adoration of the book. It felt like a dream. Plus, I cannot imagine how the author kept up with writing this book. That within itself is a feat!

    1. You’re right – I can’t imagine how the author managed to pull this thing together. She had to know so much about her characters and about the timeline before writing it at all, as it jumps around so much and gives so many hints throughout to things that happen later on … it’s just crazy! I think I found myself a bit confused a few times the first time I read it, but reading it again made everything crystal clear for me. I realized that I missed certain elements of the story the first time I read it, so it was nice to go back and have some of those “ahhh” moments.

    1. I still haven’t seen the movie, and I’m kind of reluctant to because I haven’t heard many good things about it. But I do love Rachel McAdams (the actress who plays Clare in the movie) so I think I’ll watch it eventually.

      Read the book, Kathy!!! 🙂

      1. I didn’t dislike the movie, though it’s no comparison to the book! The main thing I disliked though is that the end of the book (THE BEST PART!) is not in the movie!

  4. This was one of my most favorite reads of the past year. Though, unfortunately, I can’t yet call Niffenegger one of my favorite writers . . . have you read her second book, Her Fearful Symmetry? Not that it was terrible, but it just did not compare.

    1. No, I have not read Her Fearful Symmetry yet, although it is on my bookshelf waiting for me. I’ve been hesitant to pick it up because of the so-so reviews it’s gotten. I don’t want to dislike it!! I’ll read it soon, though.

  5. One of my all time favorites. A love story at its best and most poignant. I saw the movie when it came out and was pleasantly surprised at how well they did it and at their choice in actors to portray Claire and Henry. I sobbed like a baby at the end of both.

    I read Fearful Symmetry and wrote about it on my blog. It is very good but very, very different to TT’sW. You have to be prepared for that.

  6. I really enjoyed this one. It was one of those books I just could not put down. The characters felt very realistic to me, in spite of the unrealistic situation they were in- the author made it really believable what life would be like with such a disruptive disorder, and I liked that. I really thought he was going to come mentally unhinged, near the end!

  7. The first time I read this, I was unimpressed; I read it again a year later and cried harder than I’ve cried at any book ever (of course I was also v. depressed then, due to other factors, but still!). I like the way Clare and Henry both know future versions of each other, and they guide each other towards becoming those versions of themselves. I think that’s a fascinating (and true) way to portray romantic relationships. 🙂

    1. Jenny, that is such good insight. I definitely appreciate your pointing that out – that they helped each other become the people they were meant to be all along. What a great way to think of a relationship. 🙂

  8. I agree that I felt like I knew the character’s! The author does such a great job of building and describing them. I cried so hard the last few chapters…like hysterical crying…Glad I was reading it at home and not in public!!!!

  9. i loved this. i cried a lot at the end, which was a little embarrassing because i was in the airport. i enjoyed the movie too but glad i read the book before seeing the movie.

    1. Lol yes it would be a tad embarrassing to read a book like this in such a public place! I am glad to hear you enjoyed the movie because I really do plan on watching it soon.

  10. This is still a favorite of mine too. I haven’t found time to read it again but maybe when I’m 50 I’ll devote my year to re-reading books that I loved when I was younger. It would be interesting what I would think of them wouldn’t it???

    1. You should definitely reread it! I love rereading old favorites, although with all the review copies I get and new books I want to read I don’t get the chance to do it nearly as often as I would like to.

  11. I read this about six years ago too and loved it. I won’t be seeing the movie though – I can’t stand Rachel McAdams and though I don’t mind Eric Bana, I just can’t see these actors doing justice to the picture I have in my mind of these characters and how they deal with these events. I think it’s one of those books that should’ve just been left alone.

    1. I know what you mean about picturing characters a certain way and not wanting actors to mess that up, although I do like Rachel McAdams and am ambivalent about Eric Bana. I head the actors did a good job, though, so we’ll see!

  12. Oh, this is my favorite book! I also haven’t read it since my early 20s, but I’m glad to hear that it’s still just as good later in life:) I may have to re-read my copy now!

  13. I saw the movie but haven’t read the book yet. It is sitting on my shelf on loan from my mom. Thanks for the encouragement to pick it up!

  14. i read this one a while back and thought it was a good read. i didn’t love it like many but did really enjoy it. for some reason, i sometimes struggle with the whole suspension of disbelief thing. the story was beautiful though, implausible or not! 🙂

    1. See, I had no problem suspending my disbelief to sit back and fall in love with the story. But I can see how that might be difficult for some. Glad you enjoyed it, even if it was just a little bit!

  15. I love The Time Traveler’s Wife! It’s one of my favorites! I read Her Fearful Symmetry, also by Audrey Niffenegger, but it was nowhere near as good to me.

  16. This book was amazing!! I loved it so much! How meticulous she must have been while writing this!

    The movie just fell flat for me! UGH!

  17. Good to know you enjoyed it as much the second time. I only recall how much I sobbed! and then realized I don’t remember how it all ends…. So I really want to re-read before I see the film.

  18. This book is SO SO good. I laughed and cried. Haven’t read her second book yet, and almost don’t know if I want to. There were such mixed reviews…

  19. Three posts in a row that I feel compelled to comment on! I wish we could meet up IRL to talk books. This is one of my favorite books too. I think of it – and Henry and Clare – often.

    1. I agree, Gayle! I think we have very similar tastes. 🙂 I also think of Henry and Clare often, they are like real people to me, their story a real life story.

  20. I don’t mean to rain on the parade but as a man, I found this book really annoying. Henry is an impossible man. The time travel is presented as a terrible obstacle, but it’s this that makes their life so good. He travelled in time which meant he could earn money on the stock market – consequently neither had to work, they just had jobs for fun, and Henry always knew what was going to happen in the future and kept Clare all safe and happy. No man will be able to live up to this. We are only human.

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