This week’s book recommendation is The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. This book has a lot going on and it all works in amazing ways. I strongly believe that time travel is a really hard topic to pull off because there are many opportunities for plot holes or for something to leave the audience unsatisfied about. Even popular movies that venture into that territory often falter. This book, and the movie based on it, do a great job of avoiding the many pitfalls surrounding the subject. Just as it is for the characters in the book, the time travel element seems second-nature or a random event that is both problematic but sometimes good.
The premise is Henry DeTamble involuntarily travels through time at random moments. He first travels at a young age (around 4?). He can’t control it. Every time he travels, he doesn’t know where or when he will show up, but his clothes never go with him so he ends up naked wherever he ends up. He has to find clothes and eventually just wait for the “jump” to pass because he eventually travels back to his original time and place from where he first disappears. Essentially, he lives a linear life but disappears every so often to visit other time periods of his life and other places he may have never been before.
Anyway, the rules are laid down and adhered to within the book and the fantastical element works extremely well, especially when creating complications for Henry and his eventual wife Clare. The movie came out in 2009, which I saw and thought was an excellent adaptation. I recommend both, but of course encourage the option of reading though the movie does have one scene that makes me hold back a tear. Not many movies do this but this one does.
Rare moment of vulnerability aside, this book does contain a lot of sex and drug use (not a ton, but enough to not recommend it to children/younger/immature persons). The movie cut a lot of those things out so it is safe to watch. They do show Eric Bana’s butt a few times though (I’m sure some of you may be pushing play on the movie right now because of that). Other than the few omissions of “suggestive themes,” the movie is pretty much spot on in capturing the major moments and most of the smaller ones. Of course, movies never include everything in the book.
The story centers on the relationship of Clare and Henry and focuses on each character equally. It’s a gripping story that incorporates time travel extremely well and isn’t even a typical science fiction book that you might expect. It’s more of a fiction with the time travel element added for a bit of excitement (to put it mildly).