Monday, May 30, 2005

The Time Traveler's Wife

Just finished The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffeneger - just in time for our book club meeting tonight at Animah's house.

It was one of the rare occasions that we picked a book that no-on in the group had read before, but it came well recommended:(Richard and Judy's Book Club choice and on the New York Times bestseller list).

So how does it measure up? It's a strange mixture of romance and science-fiction and I found it an intriguing read. Henry De Tamble suffers from "Chrono Displacement" disorder. (Must ask our Book Club resident geneticist - and we do have one - to explain the science here!) The book dips back and forwards in time as Henry travels to the past or the future. He meets his future wife Clare for the first time in the Chicago library where he works. Clare swears that she has known Henry all her life but he does not know who she is. Then in his forties, Henry travels back in time to meet up with Clare as a six-year old. At other points in the book, Henry meets himself at different stages in his life (even teaches a younger self the survival skill of pickpocketing) and encounters his daughter, Alba in the future after his real self has died. The book alternates between Henry and Clare's narratives and charts their unusual love story and marriage. And of course, there's a good cry to be had when you reach the final pages. (Hands up who blubbed on P504!)

The book is an entertaining light read without taking up too many brain cells. The plotting is skillful (would have to be to accomodate all those shifts in time); there's enough background detail to convince; the main characters are sufficiently engaging even if the supporting cast are a bit wooden; the style is fluid yet undemanding. A job well done for a first time novelist.

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