Summary and book reviews of The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The Time Traveler's Wife

by Audrey Niffenegger

The Time Traveler's Wife
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2003, 518 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2004, 560 pages

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About this Book

Book Summary

A funny, often poignant tale of boy meets girl with a twist: what if one of them couldn't stop slipping in and out of time? Highly original and imaginative, this debut novel raises questions about life, love, and the effects of time on relationships.

Audrey Niffenegger’s innovative debut, The Time Traveler’s Wife, is the story of Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity in his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous, his experiences unpredictable, alternately harrowing and amusing.

The Time Traveler’s Wife depicts the effects of time travel on Henry and Clare’s marriage and their passionate love for each other as the story unfolds from both points of view. Clare and Henry attempt to live normal lives, pursuing familiar goals—steady jobs, good friends, children of their own. All of this is threatened by something they can neither prevent nor control, making their story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

Prologue

Clare: It's hard being left behind. I wait for Henry, not knowing where he is, wondering if he's okay. It's hard to be the one who stays.

I keep myself busy. Time goes faster that way.

I go to sleep alone, and wake up alone. I take walks. I work until I'm tired. I watch the wind play with the trash that's been under the snow all winter. Everything seems simple until you think about it. Why is love intensified by absence?

Long ago, men went to sea, and women waited for them, standing on the edge of the water, scanning the horizon for the tiny ship. Now I wait for Henry. He vanishes unwillingly, without warning. I wait for him. Each moment that I wait feels like a year, an eternity. Each moment is as slow and transparent as glass. Through each moment I can see infinite moments lined up, waiting. Why has he gone where I cannot follow?

Henry: How does it feel? How does it feel?

Sometimes it feels as though your attention has wandered for just an instant. ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Discussion Questions from the Publisher
  1. In The Time Traveler's Wife, the characters meet each other at various times during their lifetime. How does the author keep all the timelines in order and "on time"?

  2. Although Henry does the time traveling, Clare is equally impacted. How does she cope with his journeys and does she ultimately accept them?

  3. How does the writer introduce the reader to the concept of time travel as a realistic occurrence? Does she succeed?

  4. Henry's life is disrupted on multiple levels by spontaneous time travel. How does his career as a librarian offset his tumultuous disappearances? Why does that job appeal to Henry?

  5. Henry and Clare know each other for years before they fall in love as adults. How does Clare ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

It is a fair tribute to her skill and sensibility to say that the book leaves a reader with an impression of life's riches and strangeness rather than of easy thrills.

Kirkus Reviews

Mainstreamed time-travel romance, cleverly executed and tastefully furnished if occasionally overwrought: a first from fine newcomer Niffenegger....A Love Story for educated, upper-middle-class tastes.

Library Journal - David A Beron

The whole is skillfully written with a blend of distinct characters and heartfelt emotions that hopscotch through time, begging interpretation on many levels. Public libraries should plan on purchasing multiple copies of this highly recommended book.

Author Blurb Geoffrey Jennings, Rainy Day Books, KS
A funny, often poignant tale of boy meets girl with a twist: what if one of them couldn't stop slipping in and out of time? Highly original and imaginative, this debut novel raises questions about life, love, and the effects of time on relationships. What is normal? For Claire and Henry, it's one day at a time-not necessarily in the same order.

Author Blurb Betsy Burton, The King's English, Salt Lake City, Utah
Clare, wife, lover and artist, is the true fulcrum of this complex and endlessly surprising tale, reminiscent of Time and Again, yet unique - and quite wonderful.

Author Blurb Alex Pippard, BookPeople, Austin TX
I finished the second half of The Time Traveler's Wife alone in a long-since gone cold bathtub crying to myself even as I smiled. The pruney toes and red eyes were worth it - Niffenegger has done that miracle of good writing - opened a rift we all fall into, naked and scared, into a real world.

Reader Reviews

Cloggie Downunder

Wonderful
The Time Traveler’s Wife is Audrey Niffenegger’s second novel. This is the story of Henry DeTamble (the Time Traveler) and Clare Abshire (the Time Traveler’s Wife). Clare first meets Henry when she is six years old and he suddenly appears, naked, in ...   Read More

Dayna!

AWESOME
This book I had to do for a book report, and let me tell you the movie doesn't do any justice!

Camille L.

The Dynamics of Time Traveling!
Since Henry was a boy, he has been different. He has what will be called “Chrono-Displacement Disorder.” This disorder causes him to travel through time; he can go forwards or backwards in time, but often finds himself returning to the same spots. ...   Read More

Beetch

WONDERFUL!
Best book I ever read! Next to twilight series. And I hate reading so it must have been a good book to keep me reading! Love it! Can't wait for the movie.

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