I feel so conflicted about this book.
Now, I did this all in the wrong order. I actually saw this movie years ago before I was aware that this book existed at all. So, I tried to not allow the fact that I knew what was going to happen affect my opinions on the novel, and I’m pretty sure I succeeded. The reasons this wasn’t really my cup of tea had nothing to do with my prior knowledge of the book, but rather the details—or lack of details—that were present in the book.
The Time Traveler’s Wife chronicles the lives of Henry and Clare, a couple that love each other endlessly. To make things more complicated, Henry time travels involuntarily to other times and places. They must deal with his disappearances together as they travel through life as an unlikely couple.
Unfortunately, I love the idea of this book and my imagined version of the couple more than I actually like the book itself. There are a myriad of different things about the book that I don’t like from Henry kissing Clare while she is underage to the couple allowing a three year old child to sit in the front seat of a car to the billion references of the real world beyond the book in the form of bands, places, etc. Smaller things aggravated me as well, but with some of my bigger grievances, I cannot simply ignore the way they make me feel.
In this novel, there is essentially no character development or relationship development. I could not tell you anything about Clare more than that she cannot cook, is an artist, makes terrible friendships, and loves Henry. And why does she love Henry? I really, really wish I knew. I wish that the author had put an effort into making the development of the relationship beautiful because it could’ve been such a moving story. The entire buildup of the relationship from Henry’s side isn’t in the book. It’s like one second they meet; in the next, they’re having sex. Magically, after that, they’re in love. That just isn’t realistic. More than that, when Clare is asked why she is going to marry Henry, she says that they have great sex. Really, Audrey Niffenegger? Why couldn’t you have taken that opportunity to give their relationship some more depth?
More than just Clare and Henry though, none of the interpersonal relationships in this book make a whole lot of sense. Clare makes these despicable friends, and I have no idea why she likes these rude, manipulative people. For that matter, I don’t know why Henry and Gomez are friends. I think Gomez is disgusting and disgraceful. If you’ve read the book, you’ll know why. Additionally, by the end of the book, there are so many different characters that I couldn’t remember who they all were. Oops.
One of the last things that bugged me about the novel is the way that Henry and Clare approach life. Since they know portions of the future, they’re very casual about life and living. They don’t really try to do anything; they just relax and let things happen. To me, it just felt like they were taking life for granted, and life is this beautiful, strange occurrence that we should appreciate.
Anyway, I truly am split in the way I feel about this novel. I was very moved by it at the end, but I didn’t feel much during the beginning and middle. I wanted to see the couple go through more happy times, and I just feel like they experience so much despair. It saddens me that so much of their lives were wasted in anger rather than being content in their love together.