The Time Traveler's Wife is a touching and compulsively readable (or listenable) tale, partly high-concept, mostly finely realized love story focusing on fate, the pain and relief of being left behind, and the pain and excitement of leaving. Science fiction, literary fiction, romance, adventure, tear-jerker, laugh-inducer - it defies categorization.
The 2003 bestseller is being released this week in an unabridged audiobook version (16 CDs, 17 Â¾ hours) that lets you savour every word, a welcome addition to the previous, abridged version (10 CDs or eight cassettes, 12 hours), both by Highbridge Audio.
The Time Travelerâ€™s Wife covers the lifetime of Clare Abshire and her unusual romance with time-traveling Henry DeTamble. Henry has been an integral part of Clare's life since she was six, when his 36-year-old self appeared naked in the meadow outside her home, and reappeared at random intervals — and at random ages — over the years. To her surprise, he tells her they will eventually be married. Henry first met Clare when he was 28 and working at the Newberry Library, and she was a 20-year-old art student. To his surprise, she tells him they will eventually be married.
Niffenegger outlines the strict rules of time travel in her book's world without getting bogged down in the inherent contradictions that might make your brain hurt. Henry can bring nothing through time, not clothes, not money, not even fillings. And nothing can be changed. He can't go back in time and alter the future. Though, in one of those inevitable time travel paradoxes, of course his presence in the past has already affected the future.
The book portrays both a romantic and harsh view of time travel. Henry is attracted to the adventure and repelled by the danger and inconvenience. Naked, hungry, disoriented, he must run from the police, fight for protection, steal to provide for his out-of-time self.