My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Time Traveler’s Wife embraces the ‘all timelines are one’ view of time travelling, the kind you find in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. So basically the past, present, and future is blended into one, and everything has already happened.
Henry is born with defective genes, which makes him involuntarily travel through time. This is not as fun as it sounds, for he has to leave everything behind whenever he time-travels, including his clothes, undigested food in his stomach, fillings in his teeth, etc. Appearing stark naked in unfamiliar places with an immense craving for food is hardly enviable.
The story is mainly about love, as the title suggests. 6 year old Clare meets 36 year old Henry for the first time on one of his time-travels. This Henry is from the future, where he is already married to Clare. Thereafter, he keeps travelling back to Clare’s young years till, at the age of 20, Clare meets her contemporary Henry who is 28 years old and doesn’t know about Clare’s existence. I liked this. I liked the inevitable loop which, like so many other things in the book, was just meant to happen.
This inevitability of events is kind of scary. Henry can see parts of his past and his future, but he can never change any of it and this makes his life harder and devoid of free choice. Like, in one of his future trips he sees himself in a particular house, and when he goes house-searching in the present, he is forced by some omnipotent force to buy nothing but that very house.
Now the negative points. The book is too long and at points it felt boring due to repetitive circumstances and too many characters. The author could have shortened the length by a hundred pages or so, but I guess she wanted to go through all the years. Another negative aspect is that everything is molded in a way so that there can be a climax. Henry is allowed to keep the darkest facts from Clare.
Henry as a character is quite well developed and charismatic. I liked him specially through his interactions with his own child-self, and from the scenes of his mother’s accident. His family story, especially his Dad, reminded me strongly of Clannad. I wish the author made Henry a little more realistic though. I mean a person with so many problems would’ve given up on his job and used time-travelling to his advantage. He knew about the future stock market after all.
Clare, on the other hand, is defined mostly through her strong love for Henry. This led me to believe that the book is somewhat directed towards female readers, in the sense that it gives most of the spotlight on the male. The description of Clare’s appearance and movements lend her a great deal of charm, but I wish she had a more diverse personality.
Overall, it was a nice read. There are few sexually explicit scenes here and there, and I’d recommend it to everyone mature enough.