Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (Harcourt)

I mostly picked up this book because I never got the chance to see the movie, which from the previews seemed like the best chick flick in the world. And it may be, I've still never seen it. But the book was infinitely more. It is in fact a love story and follows the romance of Henry DeTamble, who is a time traveler, and Clare Abshire. Henry first meets Clare when she is 6 and he has traveled back in time at the age of 36. For her, he is a stangers the pops in and out of her life, who she eventually learns is her future husband. The meet occasionally when Henry time travels to various points of her life until eventually he stops coming because they are about catch up to each other in the present. Sounds achingly perfect and romantic right? Here's where the twist comes. Henry does not time travel of his own accord. In fact he hates it, except when he gets to see Clare. He has no control over when he will disappear or where he will go. He is at the mercy of time and often comes back hurt and confused because when he leaves, he cannot take anything with him, including his clothes.

This story maintains all the classic elements of a romantic story but lacks the cliches. These two lovers are not senselessly throwing themselves at each other out of stupidity. They literally have no choice but to fall in love because it has already happened. They are destined to be together because they already have fallen in love and as we learn in the book, you can't change what has already happened.

If you are not normally drawn to romance novels, I would give this one a try because it is more than the typical. It is more raw and lacks a lot of the overwhelming femininity of most romances because it focuses so strongly on Henry's perspective and he is a more well-developed character than men in other romances. Overall it is a suspenseful, engaging book that even a man very secure in his sexuality should try and pick up.

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