This is one of the two best books I've read or listened to in a long time, and the performances are superb (The other is "Lush Life".) It is the story a guy named Henry who has a sort of disease - unique to Henry - called "chrono-displacement disorder." Henry, it turns out, is more or less taken, at various times in his life, against his will, out of the present, and spit out (usually) into the past. Henry never knows when or where he is when this is going to happen, but it usually happens at moments of great stress for present Henry, and great importance in Henry's past. (There is some travel to the future, but only in a couple of critical places.) And during all of this, Henry, like Odysseus, just wants to go home to his wife and stay there.
And it is the story of his non traveling spouse, Clare who, very self-consciously like Penelope in the Odyssey, waits patiently for her husband's return, again and again, all the while pursuing in earnest the hard work of being and becoming herself. Weaving, in Penelope's case; visual art in Clare's.
This is a novel about life, death, the nature of time, and intimate love, and most importantly, what it means to be a continuous and continuously human person, what George Eliot called the "persistent self." And It is most assuredly a love story, but not in the slightest bit sentimental. At first, the novel's conceit - time travel - is a bit confusing. Partly this is because the author unpacks the concept of time travel piece by piece, in order to take it to many of its logical conclusions. But pretty soon, the reader figures it out more or less, and forgets that some people have called it "science fiction" or "fantasy," or, most ominously to my mind, "romance." And once figured out, the author's cleverness - brilliance really - and wit are revealed as grace after grace. To use a cliche: it makes you think.
The Time Traveler's Wife is one of my favorite books. That's not to say that it's perfect or a work of fiction that will change the face of American literature, but I found it very engaging and hard to put down. I think the idea is really fresh and well-executed. I read the book in paper when it first came out and just listened to it again. My only real problem with the transition from paper to audio is that the book frequently tells you what date it is and how old the characters are (this changes a lot since one of the main characters is a time traveler). When looking at the book I could take the time to stop and absorb the date whereas it was kind of hard to catch the date and ages when read. It's kind of a convoluted storyline (this is necessary and is part of what makes it interesting) and I suspect that if I hadn't read it before I'd have done a lot of pausing to think about what just happened and rewinding of complicated parts. The narrators are pretty good, although the woman's voice was sometimes annoying to me, but that's probably just me. In sum, this is not a book to get if you're looking for something you don't have to concentrate on, but it's a great story so if you don't mind thinking a bit, give it a shot.
Don't you just love a great story well told?
This is a "must read" for original and vital usage of time travel as a "plot device". Most Time Travel books are more about SETTING (distant futures or pasts) and TECHNOLOGY (plot devices) which limit the importance of what makes a good story GOOD CHARACTERS!
The two time crossed lovers of this book (excellently narrated by the man & woman team, still, a real treat in the business of audio books.) with excellent editing (no mouth sounds.)
I really truly can't understand the fuss some people make about a scene or two. You'd think there was some kind of hard core porn. In fact I'd probably have missed ENTIRELY it I hadn't been alerted to expecting something of that sort.
Also brilliant is how the author cuts through the possible complexities of time travel with one simple premise which rings true. "Things only happen once." You have free will in real time from your past choices to the future you choose.
It very much simplifies the concept of time travel. No alternate universes, no changing history.
That the traveler has no control over where or when he goes or even for how long, landing naked desperately needing clothing quickly - it makes him a very tragic figure.
Lastly, I liked the way each chapter keeps track of the two main characters and their respective "real life" ages to make the main story easy to follow as the poor protagonist is whipped through back and forward without any control, into heart rending scenes.
Excellent. A truly original concept. I couldn't stop listening. Not to be missed. This is a beautiful love story that unfolds with "flash forwards" and "flashbacks" that keep you guessing and glued to your earphones.
I am an avid listener. I listen between 75-100 hours per month on my iPhone: 60% fiction to 40% non-fiction.
I wasn't sure about this book at first. I really had no concept of how the plot could be held together. The story opens up on the slow side, in my opinion, but rapidly you are drawn into the work. At first you might be thinking the novel is about Henry but then you might change you mind as you get further. Knowledge is power and the shifting tides of time of this novel help you understand how power ebbs and flow with the seasons of life. I was surprised by how central sex was to this novel, of course it was handled tastefully, but the the author did not gloss over how relationships and emotions intertwine with the characters.
This book is more about the relationship between them than time travel. Time travel is a vehicle to bring poignant moments into focus. Indeed, time travel is the author's tool for cutting out the mundane and focusing on the interesting. There is not a science fiction novel -- this about about two people who find each other and grow. This is about love and despair and sacrifice. I think you should give it a read even if you are little shy about science fiction. It will be enjoyed, in my opinion, by those who have experience with relationships. It more of a coming of age novel than anything else. By the way, I hear there is a squeal in the works.
I truly enjoyed this book. Usually I like to read books before I go see them in the theater, but it just didn't work out that way this time. I was hesitant about listening to the book because the movie was good but I wasn't sure if the book was going to live up to all of its hype. I really believe now that I have finished the book that this book among all others that I read in 2009 will most certainly come to stand the test of time and be considered a classic someday. My amazement and appreciation of this book comes from the mere beauty of the writing. The book had action, romance, drama, and at times poetry. All of it was intricately intertwined in a way that was breathtaking at times. The audio book was recorded with two different narrators: one for Henry and one for Claire. This made for a great listen and really helped to draw me into the story so that I could understand what everyone was feeling in the story.
If you are considering this book, then I highly recommend that you listen to the audiobook so that you can experience the story in the same way that I was able to.
For those who haven't read this book yet, some quick tips:
* You might feel like you missed something early on, and feel the need to back it up and listen again... Don't bother. You will quickly get used to the author's approach to the time traveling technique.
* It's more of a love story than a real sci-fi time travel story.
* The author must have felt her readers need to have vulgar, graphicly described sexual acts for us to picture a love making scene. Sadly, her high-schoolish and flagrant use of "locker room language" served to detract from scenes. She used words I haven't heard in real conversatoins since I was 16 years old.
* Her originality in her take on time travel is wonderful.
* The story begins well, and continues to build and keep your attention until about 3/4 of the way through and then she seems to lose focus and starts to fill in with artsy/craftsy stuff that add nothing to the plot. I found my self yelling at my MP3 player to "hurry up and get back to the story". I can find a book some other time on how to make paper.
* Be prepared to be left hanging on a couple of things that are never resolved.
* The story is read well, but the female narrator doesn't do men's voices that well and there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason as to when they switch from male to female narrators.
That being said, it was one of the better books I have listened to this year.
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
This was a great book. It is destine to become a classic. I am not easily brought to tears but I was sobbing, and literally wailing, while doing the dishes as I listened to one of the poignant scenes of this unique and wonderful novel. My wife rushed in with a worried look asking what was wrong (fearing I had cut off my thumb). I popped out an ear bud and replied "good book". It was; it was a very good book. I listened to it a second time as soon as I had recovered from the first listen, then my wife, my child, and I listened to it again on a long drive. We all laughed and cried together as we drove. Interestingly, although many of these reviewers were brought to tears by this book, it is not at all sad. It is just very poignant. I left the book with a strong feeling of joy for life and the importance of love. The book contains some strong language and adult situations, but I think it is fine for most teens.
I truly enjoyed this book. It was very well written and the author did a superb job of keeping the timelines straight as the plot wove round and around itself. The tag-team narration was a stroke of genius and the readers were believable. I wasn't sure I was going to like it but immediately fell into the charactors pace and enjoyed the ride. High marks!
I listen to my audiobooks to help me fall asleep at night. With this book, I was fighting sleep and staying awake until 3:00 a.m. to hear more. Very well written, fast moving, an unpredictable and enjoyable read. This is one I'll listen to again and again! A big thank you to the author.
If you take a look at my other reviews, you'll find that I generally read Sci-Fi and military fiction books. I grabbed this book based upon its title - without doing any research or reading any reviews about it. I have been utterly surprised. This book is soft sci-fi, we accept things because that is the way they are presented. Henry's time traveling is never fully explained, in my opinion, but it doesn't matter. This book is less about the time traveling and more about the effects of it and how it affects thelives and marriage of the two main characters. Well read, well written and I would buy it again even knowing that it wasn't in its strictest sense my preferred genre.