Book Review: The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger

Sunday, June 12, 2011 § 36

"I met Clare for the first time in October, 1991. She met me for the first time in September, 1977; she was six, I will be thirty-eight. She's known me all her life. In 1991 I'm just getting to know her."
~ Henry DeTamble

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Format: Trade Paperback, 546 pages
Publisher: Harcourt Inc. (Harvest Edition)
With Film Version? Yess.. Starring Rachel McAdams & Eric Bana. Check out the trailer below.

Number of Times Read: Once! (x

Clare Abshire, born May 24, 1971, is the time traveler's wife. She is six when she first meets Henry, who is then thirty-six, and time traveling. How extremely weird to meet you future husband at such a young age!

Henry DeTamble, born June 16, 1963, is the time traveler. The first time he meets Clare, he is in the present, in the here and now. He is twenty eight, and Clare, twenty.
How extremely disorienting to meet a girl, who claims to be your future wife, and tells you she has met you before when she was six and you were thirty-six!

But clearly those are the two first dates of the time traveler and the time traveler's wife! How weird to have two first dates instead of just one!

First, I am going to talk about time traveling. Well, I'd LOVE to try it! Imagine this: you time travel in the future, see the winning lottery numbers, travel back to the present and ta-da! you're a millionaire. Do it again and again and again and you're a gazillionaire!

But unfortunately Henry DeTamble got the 'time traveling disease' pretty bad. It is involuntary. What does that mean? It means it is not something he can will to happen. It means he can not choose when and where to come and go. He just-- poof! disappears, arriving to an unknown era, sometimes in an unknown place, and brace yourselves-- without any piece of clothing on! Gross, right? Still want to time travel? (x. And so everytime Henry time travels, he has no choice but to learn how to be streetsmart, learn the ways of the lowlifes-- pickpocketing (for cash), stealing (for clothes), running really fast, and fighting, if he must, in order to survive. But still, IT IS time traveling, right guys? Seeing the future winning lottery numbers is what's most important! Ha ha! Kiddin'. (;

Just as Henry is defined by his unpredictable comings and goings, Clare is defined by her waiting. All throughout the novel, Clare waits for Henry, when he time travels, clueless as to when and where he might be at the moment, what he is doing and when he is coming back. There's nothing she can do but wait because, obviously, where Henry goes, she can not follow. Now, that kind of waiting will really drive me mad and break me to pieces! I am not highly acquiesced to patience and perseverance. Waiting is just something I have little endurance for. Who likes to wait anyway?

Perhaps, I should write that the central theme in this love story is 'love defying time'. But I can't quite agree with myself to that. Whereas in conventional love stories, love is always the binder, in The Time Traveler's Wife, waiting is. On love. On loss and absence. On fate. On aging. Even on death. Waiting seems to be the common denominator. Waiting seems to have defied everything, time included. It brings forth the idea that when you patiently wait, something nice and pleasant will bestow itself upon you.

There are two scenes I can't get over with. The first scene: During Clare's eighteenth birthday, and Henry is forty-something, they made love, for the first time for Clare, and, for the nth time for Henry. Really weird right? Mind racking! The second scene: During their wedding day. Clare is twenty-two, and Henry is thirty. Before the ceremony, Henry, unwillingly time travels again, while his thirty-eight year old self time travels to the day of the wedding. So what happens is the thirty eight year old Henry, already married to Clare from the future where he comes from, pretends to be the thirty year old Henry, marrying Clare. Crazy, right?

 the official trailer of the time traveler's wife

I have read quite a number of novels with time traveling concepts and usually, the protagonist goes back to the past to undo something erroneous, or goes forward to the future to prevent something from happening. The Time Traveler's Wife presents a clean, new slate. In the novel, the past, the present, and the future coexist all at the same time, at different dimensions. How magnificent is that? How to transcend those dimensions? There must be gazillions of them! The present, the here and now, is the only flexible thing; both the future and the past are fixed, unalterable. So I can just imagine how powerless, how frustrated Henry must feel every time he perceives something unpleasant in the past or in the future, and can't do anything about it. 

I like that Henry is not perfect, that he used to be a bedhopper before meeting his one true love, that his is not a perfect life, not rich and superbly handsome, has an alcoholic dad and that he can't control his time traveling. These imperfections make him seem more real. There are attempts to stop his time traveling, especially when his wedding day is approaching and when he and Clare were attempting to have a baby. The attempts seem to make time traveling appear that it is not really as cool as it looks, that it is a disease with no known cure yet, and that it is a real ordeal that Henry has to face for every second of his existence.

Toward the climax of the story, I have come to appreciate the author's intricate time scheme. It is more than I can muster. Despite of Henry's inexhaustible supply of time, the author still managed to draw out feelings of suspense, as if time is already running out.

Look at the underlined phrases. Pretty ironic, huh?

I can not see any flaws in the story and the only thing I didn't like was when I was already on the last page! Really! I wish the story could go on and on! That's how good it is..

High praises to Audrey Niffenegger for crafting this most unusual, most romantic, most  magnificent, most timeless novel! Haha. Word of the day: most. Yes it's so good. Not your traditional love story, The Time Traveler's Wife is so dazzling, so magical, that I'm having these mixed feelings-- aching the story to be true and, at the same time, untrue. I'm not overreacting when I say I am having a hard time getting over it, when I should be proceeding to read the next book on my list. I'm giving it ten major whoops! instead of five. That's how great this novel is, and so I urge you to read it! (;

Rating: 10 out of 10 major whoops! ((:

Trivia: Niffenegger. On my extensive book collection, The Time Traveler's Wife is the only novel I own which author's last name starts on "N". (;

Interesting word: cunnilingus. What, you don't know what it means??! *smirks* Well you should, otherwise, you'll be missing half of your sex life. Ha ha! I kid not! (;

Quotable Quotes:

"This spirit, this feeling that things aren't right and, in fact, things are so wrong that the only thing we can do is say Fuck It, over and over again, really loud until someone stop us."
- Henry, on punk art/music

"But don't you think that it's better to be extremely happy for a short while, even if you lose it, than to be just okay for your whole life?"
- Clare to Henry's dad, while reminiscing her childhood memories when the adult Henry was visiting her..

"It's living up to being happy that's the most difficult part."

"Everything seems simple until you think about it."

"That's what alcoholics do. It's in their job description: fall apart and then keep falling apart."
- Henry, on his dad 

P.S. There are more quotes, I'm just feeling kinda lazy to browse all  546 pages. Maybe later. ((:

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§ 36 Response to “Book Review: The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger”

  • tim says:

    thanks for the info, hindi kasi lahat ng nasa book nandun sa movie eh.. I will look for this book.. I've watched the movie- it's cool..

  • mayen says:

    awww i love the time traveller's wife. I haven't read the book yet but i was able to watched the movie and it was great.

    Naiinggit ako sa mga books mo. pa-rent mo na lang sa amin yang mga yan. haha..

  • MG says:

    yap, napanood ko na siya once sa trailler hehehe. sipag sipag talga ni karen mag read ng books. tnx sa pagshashare at patuloy na pagcocomment sa blog ko. kahit madalas baluktot english. tnx ulit ^_^

  • MG says:

    ay teka baka mamis interpret ..yung english ko yung baluktot. hahaha. ^_^

  • pEarL says:

    oh!i love that movie but i haven't read it yet.. i love your books.

    honestly gusto ko syang mabasa.. twice ko din siyang pinanood..

  • I haven't read a book in ages and your reviews just make me pine so much more, to read, to just be. Ah! Sigh.

    This review made my heart melt. Someday, girl, I'm going to be reading every book you recommend, here.

    For today, this review done me good! Thank you. :)

  • krn says:

    i recently downloaded ebooks and i visited your blog just to seek great novels you recommend. hehe. i've read the perks of being a wallflower coz you said so. and i'm planning to read this one. thanks very much kayren. new name huh? hehe

  • iya_khin says:

    please check my blog ni tag kita!!! ahahah!

  • jtorres says:

    pahiram na yung book :O

  • Anonymous says:

    ive seen the movie, it was so good but wow your review made some details in the story come to light.. thank you for making such a nice review, i'll be out hunting for this book in the bookstore!

  • Hulio says:

    May part na hindi ko magets[or ayaw lang tanggapin ng psyche ko] dito. Yung nahuli 'siya' [meaning, the present and future henry] ng erpats niya nung teenager pa siya?

    Dear Karen of Canadian Immigration Consultancy, was he fucking himself then? :o

  • geyam says:

    ive watched the film na,and its nice so i bet its better talaga if i read it!lol peram!haha

  • Jool says:

    awww... thanks for sharing this. though I watched the trailer before but i haven't seen the movie. and hirap ng situation ng wife. Reading your review is like i read the whole book. keep it up.

    btw, i am your new follower hope you will visit my page and follow.

    have a nice day!


  • iya_khin says:


    ito yung link baka di mo kasi makita..

  • kayren says:

    @tim: thank youu.. you're right.. always, film versions give no justice to the real story.. but yes, the movie was good enough..(;

    @mayen: i love it too!
    pa-rent? pwede din, hehe, pero i would just gladly lend them to you. ayokong magpa-rent! hehe. its like im taking advantage of the books! hehe..

    @MG: thank you din for appreciating my book reviews. i live to read!(;

    @pearl: thank you! yes, you should read it.(;

    @the blog writer: thank you! yes, take some time to read books! its enormously rewarding!(;

  • kayren says:

    @krn: thanks too for taking the time to read my review! wow, so you really read the perks huh.. ganda nun! yes, kayren seems more hype than plain karen.. hehe(;

    @iya_khin: thanks for tagging me! hm, i will do as you wish.. busy ako yesterday ee. ill try to do it today hehe. *wink*

    @jtorres: yesss sa 24 ko papahiram sayo! bilisan mong magbasa, baka 1year na naman mag-stay sayo ang book ko! ahaha (x

    @anonymous: thank you! tough i doubt you'll come back and read this. ahehe

  • kayren says:

    @Hulio: heyy what you're insinuating is so grotesque!! ughhhh! hehe. he was masturbating okhey, not fucking himself. ughhh

    @geyam: next ka kay jonajoy torres!(;

    @jool: thank you! yeah, its a good book, and yeah, hirap talaga yung situation nung wife, antay na lang ng antay. hehe. followed you back!

    @iya_khin: oo, don't worry, gagawa ako! hehe muah!

  • Anonymous says:

    I've seen the movie.. and I'm ashamed to say na hindi ko alam na merong libro pala yun. *bows my head in shame. LOL.. I like the movie., pero mas magugustuhan ko siguro yung book. I'd have to rent one!!

    Nice read, Karen.. Keep 'em coming!

    Hihi. Natuwa ako sa comment mo sa post. Actually, Amy's a smart girl.. pero very opinionated lang madalas. parang ganun rin siya kung magsalita.. sa blog nya, madalas yun yung mga words na gamit nya.. matatapang, minsan offensive.. Pag in person naman, yung aura nya.. very strong. Nakaka intimidate, kumbaga. LOL..

    Kapag yun yung pinaniniwalaan nyang tama, yun na yun. You're right.. it could really get her into trouble.. and she already did na nga. Sa school nila ata.. But I dunno.. She'll change naman siguro eventually. hehe..

    Ang sarap gawin guest bloggers yung mga matatapang.. hehe.

  • interesting. I've been thinking of watching the movie and reading the book but I never got around to it. But seeing as you rated it 10 out of 10...I'll definitely put it in my reading list. :D

    P.S The P-word is...a male sex organ. Hence, black, white, and...Asian. ;)

  • kayren says:

    @leah: yes, again, it was a nice post of yours leah. (;

    well, that was my honest reaction hehe. she's like self-centered or something. ata. hehe homaygahd shes just a fifteen year old and she made me react like that! hehe. nyways age doesnt always matter. she knows whats right or wrong and yada-yada. (;

  • kayren says:

    @jessica: thanks!(; hmm, well, you should read it first then watch..

    omgwtfbbq. im so.. innocent. so you meant to say penis! why dint you just say so?? hehe. yes right, i got that asian bit (;

  • I read the Time Traveler's Wife several years ago and it was lovely. A very unconventional love story.

  • I read the Time Traveler's Wife several years ago and it was lovely. A very unconventional love story.

  • I read the Time Traveler's Wife several years ago and it was lovely. A very unconventional love story.

  • ka bute says:

    to be honest, i don't like the idea of time travel. i don't get it. really. ;) my brain can only process plateau ideas. haha. ;) at nainis ako kasi bakit ito may movie version?? bakit yung the vampire lestat until now wala pa din????? tell me! baket??? lels. (--,)

  • kayren says:

    @myself: hays.. i love guys who can talk to me about books.. *sigh* the only guys i know who love books are geeks and weird looking so i can't learn to love them dammit.

    @kabute: sa case ni henry, aayaw talaga ako! it caused him his death for golly's sake.. pero gusto ko makita yung future winning lottery numbers.. haha.

    hmm, its better na wala. film versions, as i always say, tend to ruin the real stories. mag-imagine ka na lang. hehe. ganda ba yang vampire lestat? hehe. di ko kci ganong feel ang vampire stories..

  • ka bute says:

    i've met literary characters who have shown me new ways of looking at things and somehow made me a better person. and lestat is one of them. :)

    i'm no geek. but we can talk about books if u want to. =)

  • kayren says:

    lestat is that vampire sa interview with the vampire, right? wow, so that vamp turned you into a better person? lestat is a good vampire ata, right? ive read interview with a vamp but i never got past halfway through it, di ko na alam kung nasan yung book, hehe.. anyways i remember he was transformed by this blood sucking vampire, who urges him na human blood would make him stronger pero ayaw nya ata ng human blood. hays i have to read the book..

    i figured you're no geek.. *wink*

  • ka bute says:

    yung interview with the vampire was actually about louis and how lestat transformed him. yung book 2, that's lestat's biography. and lestat is an ominous vamp, not a good one. haha. he's a lot like severus snape for me. i admire both of them though. ;)

  • kayren says:

    wow, you really know your vampire chronicles, huh. yay yay yay! *whooping* ohh i never got to part where louis was transformed, oh well thats inevitable..
    i like severus snape, just not his greasy hair. ughh. he doesnt shampoo. ughh id get a zit breakout pag ganun kagreasy hair ko ugh ughhh.

  • kayren says:

    interesting yung book 3 ah. mabasa nga ang vampire chronicles.. (;

  • ka bute says:

    book 3 is queen of the damned. un? ;)

    my favorite line by snape: how grand it must be, to be the chosen one.

    my version: how grand it must be, to have the perfect tongue. lels. (di maka-get over) haha.

  • kayren says:

    ois.. bakit nga pala wala pang film version yung part two noh? nilagpasan ba.. never watched queen of the damned. si louis ba ang queen dun? hehe.

    sinabi nya kay hairy pottah?(x

    why would it seem grand to you? haha.
    get over it!

  • ka bute says:

    hahaha. that made me laugh! baliw ka din.

  • kayren says:

    hehe.. that's how the british pronounce it.. hairy pottah (x

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