The Time-Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Harcourt (2003). 536 pp.
I admit, I saw the movie first. I loved the movie, everyone in the theatre (including me) was crying. The movie, in my opinion, can be placed on the shelf next to The Notebook and a Walk to Remember. It’s one of those love stories that you turn to when you need a love story, and when you need to shed a tear or two.
Three months later I finally get around to reading the book. I was so excited. And I read it in just under a week. Was it good? Yes. Was it the greatest? No. I’m not going to lie, I was a little disappointed.
I was expecting to be drawn to another time and place with this story (no pun intended). Books like this are meant to allow you to escape. I wanted to be tugged here and there by my heartstrings. I wanted to cry. I didn’t cry, and my heartstrings didn’t feel like pulling hard enough to move me.
For starters, it didn’t seem like Henry really embraced Alba as his daughter. He loved her, yes, but for the amount of passion he has for Clare I expected that little girl to have him wrapped around her little finger. Understandably, it may have been a bit difficult for him. He didn’t get a lot of time with her, and he knew he didn’t. Maybe he didn’t want to get too close. But it just seemed to me that he was too passionate of a man not to immerse himself in the time he did get with her
Second, I didn’t like Gomez. I think the directors of the movie did a large improvement to the character, just by some of the details they left out about him. In the book Gomez’s secret love for Clare was alluded to, but then, all of a sudden, BAM!: He’s the rapist-type. It doens’t make sense. If he was even capable of such predatory behavior, someone would have noticed it. And Charisse bugged me as his wife. For starters, she should have noticed that his love for Clare was a little more than a natural crush. Crushes you can’t control. But when her husband looked her point blank in the eye and said that he would go for her best friend if anything happened to her husband, that’s the time to take action. And granted, she did tell Henry. Who did nothing. A man like Henry is protective of the women in his life. His mother died when he was five years old, and no matter how many times he revisits that scene he can do nothing to save her. Under normal circumstances, a man would automatically be protective of his women. Whatever their relationship to him is. Henry has it coming at him from two different angles. First, his wife is being pursued by another man. And not just any man, his best friend. Gomez does not have simple heart palpitations when she walks in the room, he sees her in a romantic sense that is inappropriate. Second, his best female friend was just served a warning by her husband. The fact that both of these situations involve the same man should not cause even a shadow of a doubt in Henry’s mind.
That being said, Niffenegger does have a beautiful style of writing. I may not have bought the characters as much, but she can describe a scene so well that I picture it vividly in my mind. There is an image that she writes in which she is describing Henry’s own perceptions of himself as he is getting shot. He is not looking at himself just having been shot, he is looking down at his chest that just passed a bullet. That scene blew me away.
I don’t know how I felt about this book as a whole. It was a decent read, to be sure, but I’ve read better. I think it was good to read because if I didn’t I would be so curious, simply because the movie was so good. But now I’m not curious anymore, and I don’t know if I’d read it again.