You might be wondering why I’m reading a massive bestseller from over a decade ago now, but one of the Popsugar prompts this year is to read a book with more than a million ratings on Goodreads. The Time Traveler’s Wife had been on my TBR a long time, and my interest had waned a lot, but this was an opportunity to give it a go.
If you’re not familiar with the story, Henry has a rare genetic disorder which causes him to spontaneously travel in time, usually backwards, always naked. On many of these trips he meets the woman who will become his wife. The narrative switches between Henry’s non-linear lifetime and Clare’s present, slowly bringing the multiple timelines toegther.
Time is priceless, but it’s free. You can’t own it, you can use it. You can spend it. But you can’t keep it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.
I can’t say I am impressed. Did no one else find it a bit icky that grown Henry was visiting his wife when she was a child and grooming her to be his wife? It was portrayed like they were dating already. He doesn’t really give her the opportunity to find out for herself, telling her they’ll be married in the future. Then when they do get together in the present, it’s like they don’t really like each other that much, Clare seems to be waiting for the Henry she knew as a child.
Henry goes through time beating people up, stealing clothing and money, without a single consequence. He even teaches his younger self how to pick pockets. Just because he disappears from that time, doesn’t mean his actions don’t affect others. So I didn’t like Henry one bit, and the book is really about him despite the title.
Clare is a bit of a one-dimensional character, her world revolves around Henry, and then making a miniature version of Henry. I mean the genetics and the implications of trying to have a time-travelling baby were interesting but it was a novella’s worth of material in an overly long book.
So I found it all a bit boring. Maybe if you like books about the every day happenings of life, you’d enjoy that with the extra time travel dimension. Henry doesn’t time travel anywhere exciting, just to moments in his, or Clare’s, past. Then there’s moments of odd metaphors and language which felt like it was trying too hard.
When I am out there, in time, I am inverted, changed into a desperate version of myself. I become a thief, a vagrant, an animal who runs and hides. I startle old women and amaze children. I am a trick, an illusion of the highest order, so incredible that I am actually true.
Oh and there’s some pretty convenient things thrown in which don’t really fit with the whole determinism thing, was Henry destined to win the lottery? If he could manage that I don’t see why he couldn’t have changed other things.
POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 5. A book with at least one million ratings on Goodreads
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Book Source: Purchased
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