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Sunday, September 05, 2004
The Time Traveler's Wife 
By Audrey Niffenegger

I bought this book because its premise sounded intriguing. The back cover says:
This is the extraordinary story of Clare and Henry who met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry thirty. Impossible but true, because Henry suffers from a rare condition where his genetic clock periodically resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future.
However, before I could read the book, Aizuddin over at the Volume of Interactions downloaded it from Audible.com as an audio book, listened to it, and gave it a ringing endorsement. He cried at the end? How could I not read a book that could make a grown man cry? ;)

So I picked it up one night and began reading. One of my housemates came downstairs the next morning, opened the front door, and I blinked. "Is it bright outside already?" Gosh! I'd stayed up the whole night, reading!

Let's just say I was not disappointed in this book. It was as interesting as it had promised to be. Touching, too. Of course, I am a hopeless romantic but this book is much more than your usual formulaic love story. And no, I didn't cry, but then I'm not one to cry easily when reading books or watching movies.

So what was it all about? Poor Henry gets suddenly pulled into his past or future for brief periods of time with no warning and no control over the time or the place he's going to end up in. He's not able to take anything with him, so he always arrives naked, without any money, and sometimes without any idea where he is or what year he's in. The first time Clare meets him, he's thirty-six and already married to her in his present, but he's travelled back in time so she's only six. Of course he knows who she is, but she has no clue who this big, naked stranger is.

As the years pass and Clare grows up, Henry periodically flashes into her life from various times in his future. Turns out that he only meets her for the first time when he's twenty-eight. It's funny because now Clare is the one who knows him, but since he hasn't lived his future yet -- the future from which he's been visiting her -- he doesn't recognise her at all. (Confused yet?) She informs him calmly, "You've been telling me for years that whenever it is you're coming from, you're married to me," and the shock is so great that for a moment he's afraid he's going to have one of his time-travelling episodes.

I don't want to make it sound like this is a difficult book to read, because it isn't, but it will make you think about the concept of time. Is it linear or is it... all already there? I mean, if Clare is six and Henry is actually only eight years older than she is, how can the thirty-six-year-old Henry travel back in time to meet her? That Henry doesn't exist yet, right? Plus you get the older Henry sometimes arriving in the present and hanging out with the current younger version of himself. So he exists in the present, but he also exists in the future, which technically hasn't happened yet. (Now are you confused? Hehehe...)

PS. This book found its way into Aliya's hands at the Book Swap Meet VI. That's why you should come for these meets, boys and girls! ;D

Sunflower  # 7:33 PM
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