Pin It
Favorite

Book Review 

by Kris Dinnison


The Time Traveler's Wife was, for me, one those rare and wonderful reading experiences. From the first chapter of Audrey Niffenegger's debut novel, I was hooked. Five hundred pages later, I was grieving the end, not wanting to leave these characters or lose track of their lives.


Niffenegger tells the story of Clare Abshire, a talented paper artist, and Henry DeTamble, a librarian who restores books, listens to the Violent Femmes and just happens to be a time traveler. Henry has what Niffenegger calls a Chrono-Displacement Disorder, a genetic anomaly that causes him to spontaneously, and uncontrollably, travel to another time and place. Sometimes this is a pleasant experience, as when an adult Henry time travels and is able to give his five-year-old self some advice during his first time-travel experience. But many times it is a terrifying experience of suddenly being naked and vulnerable and not knowing where or when he is.


But Niffenegger does not get too caught up in the mind-blowing possibilities of how many Henrys might be at any given place at any given time. This is, at its core, a love story. Her choice to structure the novel in two voices (Clare's and Henry's) is extremely effective. She skillfully maintains their distinct voices and concerns, and gives us a sense both of Clare's more linear experience of their relationship and of Henry's sense of dislocation.


For example, when he and Clare first meet, Henry is 36 and Clare is only six. Henry makes a series of visits to Clare as she is growing up, so by the time they meet in 'real time', (when Clare is 23 and Henry is 31), Clare has known Henry her whole life and knows they will be married. However, Henry has not yet met Clare and has no idea who she is.


Don't make the mistake of thinking that the time-travel device is some sort of gimmick that the author uses to spice up her novel. The Time Traveler's Wife is peopled by complex characters the reader values and cares about. Niffenegger's skill as a storyteller rests in her ability to create details, images and moments that are disturbing and unforgettable, and then weave them together into a story that readers don't want to end.





Publication date: 04/01/04

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • In Defense of Refugees
  • In Defense of Refugees

    In the aftermath of the presidential election, local residents seek ways to love and support their refugee friends
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • No License to Kill
  • No License to Kill

    Task force says officers should be held responsible for police shootings; plus, state auditor clears Spokane Valley firing of city manager
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • Trumped-up Education
  • Trumped-up Education

    Could the President-elect's support of school choice trickle down to Spokane?
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue
Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets, Modern Science

Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets, Modern Science @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Jan. 6

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Kris Dinnison

Most Commented On

  • Unfinished Business

    Isaiah Wall wants to get his life on track. But first, he's gotta buy drugs for the police
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • This Isn't Normal

    America has gone down this road before, and it's a dead end
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


green zone


marijuana


trail mix


Comment


Readers also liked…

  • Patrolling While Black
  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • In the Spotlight
  • In the Spotlight

    Do you have the right to project your slogan on someone else's wall?
    • Apr 29, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation