Sunday, May 17, 2009
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Yesterday's book featured a character slipping between past and present by virtue of memory and dreams. The Time Traveler's Wife's character Henry DeTamble travels through past, present, and future courtesy of a "chrono displacement" disorder. I am not a huge fan of time travel stories (or any science fiction, for that matter) but I make a huge exception for this story. The reason this book is so successful is its readable prose, likable characters, and brain teasing plot. I won't lie to you...you have to use your smarts at the beginning to figure out what's going on. Henry is 28 years old in one passage, and then only 8 in the next, then he's 32, and so on. And his lovely wife, Clare, is likewise variously aged throughout, depending on where in time Henry travels. But once you get the hang of it, it's fun--like putting a puzzle together. You realize the plot's progression, though seemingly random, is in fact solidly chronological--it always loops back to Clare. (After all, she is the time traveler's wife.) I think we can learn a lot from this book as well as yesterday's book: even though time plods forward, we are fortunate that our memories let us revisit and reframe events again and again and again.