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When I first began reading "The Time Traveler's Wife," I expected the premise to be too "out there" for me to become emotionally involved in the characters. Not so. I admired and sympathized with Clare, had a good old-fashioned literary crush on Henry, and was thoroughly entwined in their unique circumstances and romance. Niffenegger is a skillful writer and the story never felt forced or overly fantastical, simply magical and genuine.
I would recommend this book to women who have at least a slight interest in science fiction or fantasy, because it is not quite as "realistic" as other fictional or romantic novels. It is well written without being a challenge to slog through.
"The Time Traveler's Wife" is set in Chicago. I happened to live there at the time I was reading it and it made the story come alive all the more.
Without giving too much away, the novel is about a girl named Clare who grows up having sporadic visits from Henry, a man who appears in different states of dress (or undress), age, appearance to her throughout her life. He is a time-traveler, and is not able to control his visits. They fall in love, marry, and try to have a family and a "normal" life as much as Henry's unusual condition allows. Clare is a visual artist; this is a huge part of her character and, I believe, one of the qualities about her that enables her to step out in faith and risk such a strange relationship and unexpected love.
This book has a special place in my heart, thus I was tentative to have new images in my head from watching the film version. I prefer the novel, but found a lot to like in the movie. Rachel McAdams is exquisite, and the final scenes equally heartbreaking.
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The novel tells the story of Henry DeTamble (born 1963), a librarian at the Newberry Library in Chicago, and his wife, Clare Abshire (born 1971), an artist from a wealthy family who makes paper sculptures. Henry has a rare genetic disorder, which comes to be known as Chrono-Displacement during his lifetime, that causes him to involuntarily travel through time. When 20-year-old Clare meets 28-year-old Henry at the Newberry Library in 1991, he has never seen her before, although she has known him most of her life. Clare's past is still in Henry's future. Henry begins to experience the events in Clare's childhood at the same time that he experiences life with the adult Clare in the present. In the novel, the future cannot be changed, and many tragic events are foreshadowed in the past.
Henry is unable to control his time traveling: when he leaves, where he goes, or how long his trip will last. His destinations are tied to his subconscious, as Henry most often travels to places he has visited or will eventually visit. Very often, Henry is taken back to the moment his mother died in a car accident that he survived, and is...