Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Time Traveler's Wife

Rate this book
This is the extraordinary love story of Clare and Henry, who met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry was thirty. Impossible but true, because Henry suffers from a rare condition where his genetic clock periodically resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future. In the face of this force they can neither prevent nor control, Henry and Clare's struggle to lead normal lives is both intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

537 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2003

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Audrey Niffenegger

49 books11.6k followers
Audrey Niffenegger (born June 13, 1963 in South Haven, Michigan) is a writer and artist. She is also a professor in the MFA Creative Writing Program at Columbia College Chicago.

Niffenegger's debut novel, The Time Traveler's Wife (2003), was a national bestseller. The Time Traveler's Wife is an unconventional love story that centers on a man with a strange genetic disorder that causes him to unpredictably time-travel and his wife, an artist, who has to cope with his constant absence.

Her Fearful Symmetry (2009), Niffenegger's second novel, is set in London's Highgate Cemetery where, during research for the book, Niffenegger acted as a tour guide.

Niffenegger has also published graphic and illustrated novels including: The Adventuress (2006), The Three Incestuous Sisters (2005), The Night Bookmobile (2009), and Raven Girl (2013). Raven Girl was adapted into a ballet by Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor and the Royal Opera House Ballet (London) in 2013.

A mid-career retrospective entitled "Awake in the Dream World: The Art of Audrey Niffenegger," was presented by the National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington D.C.) in 2013. An accompanying exhibition catalogue examines several themes in Niffenegger's visual art including her explorations of life, mortality, and magic.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
686,150 (39%)
4 stars
564,646 (32%)
3 stars
329,055 (18%)
2 stars
105,331 (6%)
1 star
54,309 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 51,862 reviews
Profile Image for Andrea.
84 reviews81 followers
December 21, 2007
I'm only adding this book because it annoys me that it popped up on the "most popular reads." People, this book is terrible. Do yourself a favor and pretend you'd never heard of it.

My short answer is that it's just no good, the long version is in the following list, which I call "The Problems I Have With The Time-Traveler's Wife."

1. The author is indecisive. Rather than accepting that this is a science-fiction novel, she tries to write a social commentary, romance, and art and music novel all rolled into one.

There is so much name-dropping that it's distracting—classical music, entomology, poetry, romance languages, library science, the American punk scene, constructivist painters, you get the idea—they're all continually cropping up at the most inane times. What should give us a better understanding of the characters actually paints them as shells of people, identified only by superficialities. There is one completely pointless mention of a Moholy-Nagy poster that really annoyed me. I had five years of design school and while I know who Laszlo Moholy-Nagy is and how to correctly pronounce his name, I couldn't pick one of his paintings out of a lineup of his contemporaries, so I didn't even buy that this dude who has spent half of his life in limbo was some kind of expert.

2. The title character's entire life and family are so difficult to relate to that I immediately hated her. She grew up in a house that has books written about it (irritating architecture reference) and everyone must "dress" for dinner at her parents' house, as if this were a Brontë novel.

3. Her family employ five black servants. In a Christmas scene, for which the servants are unchained from the stove and allowed into the dining room, the cook actually toasts to "Miz Abshire."

This book was written in 2004! How can the "Mammy" have any place here? She isn't even the only racially stereotyped character in this book. The traveler's childhood downstairs neighbor, a grandmotherly woman he refers to as Kimmy, speaks in a broken English which could have been stolen directly from a hateful gold rush-era cartoon.

4. The book skips back and forth between the point-of-view of the title character and the time-traveler himself, but there is absolutely no difference in their voices. I think I actually got confused a few times about who was speaking.

5. The phrase, “she was pale under her makeup” was used three times.

6. The chapters dealing with infertility were completely unoriginal, boring, and emotionally flat.

7. Not only are conversations unnecessarily long, but they are often followed by page after page of internal dialogue as the characters rehash and analyze every point of said conversation.

Sorry this was so long, but this might be the worst book I've ever read and I'm really confused by all the good reviews.
Profile Image for Liz S..
44 reviews25 followers
November 16, 2015
I recently read The Time-Traveler's Wife and was pretty disappointed---the author somehow manages to turn such an awesome premise (the dude actually time travels!) into something pretty flat and dull. The first hundred pages really hooked me, but after a while I started to get irritated by:

1. All the name checking of hipster-approved bands in an attempt to establish Henry's supposed "punk" cred. He liked the Violent Femmes in 1991. That's why he's so badass? Seriously?

2. The food porny descriptions of the meals they eat. Some paragraphs read like the menu of a pretentious bistro.

3. The awful ethnic stereotypes that characterize the few non-white characters (Nell, the mammy-esque family cook (complete with dialect), or Charisse, the "childlike" Filipina).

4. The fact that everyone is successful and at least upper middle class, if not fabulously wealthy. Even Henry somehow manages to keep his job at the Newberry library for 20 years, despite his habits of disappearing for odd stretches of time, not keeping appointments, and, oh, running around naked in the stacks from time to time. It would have been more interesting to me if his disorder kept him from having any normal kind of professional life.

5. The lack of character development in the protagonists after they finally meet as adults.
All of a sudden, they meet and they're in love. The author gives lip service to Henry's womanizing and drug problems, but really, they don't seem to pose much more than a passing problem for Clare because she already knows they'll get married. And even as a married couple, their biggest source of conflict (whether they can or should have a child) is extrinsic, rather than intrinsic to their personalities/characters. Clare never really seems to be bothered by her lack of independence, or the fact that she's so tethered to Henry because he had a part in making her who she is, etc.

By the time I actually got to the end of the story, I was too emotionally distanced from the characters to really be moved by what happens to them---the burden of plot winds up outsripping any kind of nuanced characterization. Bad science fiction and bad romance. Bah humbug.
Profile Image for Danielle.
552 reviews209 followers
January 18, 2008
Why can't there be a negative star rating? I hated, hated this book. And yes, I did finish it. All way-too-many pages of it. But, in my defense it was (foolishly) the only book I brought with me when I was hospitalized for 24 hours after wisdom tooth surgery, and when your options are daytime soaps or this wretched book...well, at least I got to read the ending and conclude definitively that it wasn't worth it. Okay, now that I've gotten a bit of a rant out, let me be a little more organized about my dislikes:
1. The sex. More accurately, the sex after sex after sex, in graphic detail (not pornographic detail, granted, but WAY more than I wanted to picture), at all sorts of different ages. Wow. Yeah, I just hated that. If it serves a purpose to the plot, fine, include it, but don't give me every single move. I just don't need to know that.
2. The plot was convoluted. I can say this fairly because I read it in practically one sitting, and while I was able to keep things straight, it would have served the book better to not attempt to take in so many sub-plots and minutia.
3. Okay, I will admit that for having a sci-fi premise, the concept of time travel as outlined here was at least moderately believable. What I didn't like was that it wasn't especially original (anyone seen Journeyman?) yet had the pretension that it was.
4. The whole crux of the novel was the great love story between Henry and Claire. Yet, as a reader I'm much more interested and moved by two NICE people ending up together, and staying together, than two people I just don't like that much. Let's face it, Henry is not a great guy. And there's that whole poor-rich-girl thing going on with Claire. I just wasn't feeling it.
Okay, all of that said, I really don't recommend this book to anyone. I realize there are a lot of people that like it (I know; I checked the reviews expecting to be completely vindicated, but alas, it seems I'm in the minority) but those people who like it apparently enjoy a different class of book than I do. There are so many great works out there, why waste your time with this?
Profile Image for Swaps55.
86 reviews74 followers
January 31, 2008
Warning: Spoilery review. Short version: Hurry up and read this.

Holy crap. Someone should have warned me about reading this book at work. I have been sitting here bawling my eyes out, tears streaming madly down my cheeks, flooding my eyes until the words swim into fields of glistening black lines. This book is so beautiful and anguishing to read I can't even be objective about it, because it was one of those stories that just burrowed a lot closer to home than you could ever feel comfortable with. Really, though, even objectively I have little to offer in the way of criticism. What was probably a nightmare of a book to write was woven together seamlessly, so beautifully constructed it seems more like a living, organic thing than an idea born inside someone's head.

I liked the foreshadowing, I liked the intricacy, I liked that we never really know what Alba chooses in the future, whether she embraces the time travel or tries to stop it. I loved the poignant pain that begins to trickle across the pages as the pieces begin falling into place. I am curious to see how Clare and Alba's relationship developed once Henry was gone, but I was happy it was not in the story. That there are plenty of things for my imagination to fill in makes me happy. I also really liked the approach the author took to the paradox of time travel. It seemed the most plausible, unarguable position I've ever heard (and I have taken a class on it), though I have not allowed myself to think about it too hard as I have no wish, at least within the context of this book, to unravel how much sense it makes.

What really hit me in the gut (seriously, I did not even cry this hard when I read "Where the Red Fern Grows" for the first time, and I got red-faced, puffy-eyed and ugly over that one), was the horrible feeling that I could see myself as Clare and know exactly how she felt about Henry, and could fill the unwritten pages of her future with grief that I would know and understand. I cannot imagine losing my husband. I cannot imagine ever having to face a day knowing that he was not there, and never would be again. No matter how much I would want to think that for his sake I would be strong, go on, live out my life with joy and accomplishment as he would have wanted, the truth is I would probably wind up just like Henry's father, a wasted, squandered creature who does not know how to exist alone without the sound of his laughter, the warmth of his arms around my body, the feel of his head resting against my chest, the drowsy murmur of "I love you" against my ear as we drift off to sleep, the domestic intimacy and companionship that accompanies the hiss of bacon frying in the skillet as he and I stand side by side fixing breakfast on Sunday mornings. I do not know who I would be without those things, but I would be someone unrecognizable from who I am now.

This book is also listed on IMDB, which really excites me, as I think it could be a beautiful movie. Everything it needs to be good is right here in the book, and because of the manner of Henry's death, it even lacks the melodramatic twist that most dramas rely on, such as a car accident, an act of God, or something else outside of the character's control. No, there is culpability here, and that is an incredibly powerful thing. While it was not the purpose of this book to examine how Claire dealt with her father and brother after Henry's death, or how they dealt with themselves, it would have been so interesting to see. There's too much to like about this book, and something so real and raw and powerful about the sadness and grief it portrays. Incredible.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Julie G .
883 reviews2,750 followers
July 5, 2021
This is my 400th book review for Goodreads. Wow. I am either one sick or one inspired woman (or both).

Apparently when I reach my 500th review, Goodreads will put a little encouraging "button" on my profile (they might as well just give me a bookmark), but 400 feels big, too, so I wanted to review a book that I love but have never reviewed here.

The Time Traveler's Wife is a controversial novel, and when my book club discussed it, there were burning pitchforks, buckets of hot tar and glasses of Pinot Noir being splashed in faces. The room was like a parking lot after a football game between contentious rivals. It was awesome.

I give a HUGE amount of credit to the ladies of my book club. For 11 years they have suffered through having me, both a Lit teacher and a writer, as a member, and they have put up with A LOT of my empassioned opinions. When I don't like a book, I make it ABUNDANTLY clear why it sucks and when I love a book that others don't, I verbally knock them out of my way.

And I love this book. Boy howdy, do I love this book. I originally read it 11 years ago (then re-read it, and took a bunch of notes), and the characters and the plot just hopped on into the synapses of my brain, curled up there and have remained comfortably in that position, forevermore.

In my opinion, you can read this book for its surface value (as a romance or an adventure), or you can go deeper. This novel is loaded with metaphors, and you can get both Biblical here and/or follow the story with Homer's Odyssey by your side.

For Henry is a modern day Odysseus. He's a Christ-figure as well. He represents the spring, the adventurer, the one who is both sacrificed and reborn.

And his love, Clare, is both the archetypal mother and the wife, the perpetual autumn, and Penelope, the one who waits.

Niffenegger's plot point of time travel is immense. It serves here as a lush metaphor for the cycle of life: the living, the dying, the what comes after. And it doesn't hurt that Henry loves my kind of music, too.

The ladies of book club who passionately disliked this book cited several reasons. They complained that Niffenegger's style was not linear, they had a hard time following the plot, and they found Henry's relationship with Clare bordering on predatory or creepy. I acknowledge that they experienced these problems, but they just weren't an issue for me.

And the ending. . . my God. I cried to the point of embarrassment, even though I was home alone as I finished. I actually GASPED at the end, and my steadfast rule is. . . if a book makes me GASP, it automatically earns 5 stars.

It is truly one of the best, most heart-breaking endings to a novel that I've ever encountered. My sweatshirt was soaked by the end and I ached and mourned and grieved all over those final pages.

I actually started to cry while writing this review, just revisiting that ending. A decade later. Damn!

Good choice for my 400th review!
7 reviews7 followers
March 10, 2008
Let me start this by saying I was very excited to read this book. I thought it was going to be good. It is not in any way good. It could have been good, the idea could have soared but in Niffenegger's hands it was destroyed by laundry lists of grocery bag contents, street directions, and punk bands until I even said, out loud, more than once, "okay, I get it." He bought groceries, he knows how to get around in Chicago, Clare likes to clean her studio, he is not just a punk rock poser but the real deal, complete with his cherry red Docs,etc. Seriously, this stuff does not pass for good writing in any circles. The tedious minutae of life is boring and makes the author look like she is trying to pad her story for more bulk.

The worst part of this book was that the whole thing was based on contrived plot devices. The whole time I was reading I was wondering why the author chose to have him time travel naked. To me it seemed like if it weren't for his constant pursuit of clothes there may be some real chance at something actually happening in the story. Then at the end of the book I realized that the whole naked thing was a tool to achieve the amputations at the end.

Where was this woman's editor? How do things like this get published, this story was nowhere near polished and pared down enough to make it to publication.

Also, the gory miscarriage scenes, yuck!

There was no introspect into the character's hearts and minds. How does Henry feel about knowing when he is going to die? How does Clare deal with him being a time travel? We will never know because the book was too full of what they did and how they did it and nothing about how they felt. I don't care about that stuff.

These characters were selfish, pretentious and self absorbed. And the credibility goes right out the window when they win the lottery. Come on!

I honestly don't see why this book is so well loved! This book angered me.
Profile Image for emma.
1,825 reviews48.5k followers
May 29, 2023
Life has approximately four perfect things in it.

One of them is Cake With Fresh Strawberries.

Another of them is Running Errands And Getting Yourself A Little Treat.

The third one is Going To A Body Of Water On A Hot Day And Swimming Until You're Very Tired And Then Air-Drying In The Sun.

And the fourth one is Time Travel Romance.

The two best rom-coms on earth (and I have seen many of them, in a misguided attempt to cure myself of emotionlessness) are About Time and Safety Not Guaranteed.

Both are quirky, funny romantic comedies with lovable main characters that kind of ignores the science of time travel in order to focus on a love story. And they are perfect movies.

So, by the same logic, I should have liked this book. AT LEAST liked. If the world was fair and just and rational, I would have loved it and given it five stars and tattooed the manuscript in a full-back tattoo to rival Ben Affleck's.

But this book was not:
- funny
- quirky
- romantic
- compelling
- populated by lovable characters.

It was:
- the kind of sad that feels like a trick
- centered around the worst romance I have ever read
- bizarrely outdated considering it's literally from the 2000s

I spend my entire life on this website and am addicted to my reading challenge, but when I was finished this book I was so overwhelmed by relief / plans to gather all copies I could find in one place in order to heckle them that I didn't mark it as read for days.

It was just that bad.

In case you are one of the few people who has had the fortune of never even hearing about this book, we follow Clare (a normal girl, if pretentiousness and perfect hair and weird art qualify as "normal") and Henry (a time traveler, de facto sex addict, and all around asshole).

The first halfish of this book follows Henry's time travels to Clare when she is...a child. At this point, Henry knows Clare (he is married to adult her), but Clare doesn't know Henry (she is MERE MONTHS OUT OF TODDLERDOM).

This section includes such fun as a little girl seeing a grown man naked, and a teenage girl who tries (successfully, eventually) to seduce a nearly 40 year old man because she has been groomed by him for her entire memorable life.

It's so funny when you consider that the author could have just...not done this. She opted into this kind of moral disturbance.

The second half(ish) occurs when a young(ish) (but still significantly older than Clare) Henry meets Clare for the first time. He doesn't know who she is, but she is like YOU'RE MY HUSBAND. And then they have to date.

In other words, the first half of this romance is Henry being in love with Clare when Clare is not in love with Henry and then the second vice versa.

In other other words, these people never CHOOSE EACH OTHER!!! It's grooming and then whatever the equivalent of grooming is for grownups!

It's gross and worst of all, it's boring.

And it doesn't get better. There is supposed to be some sort of "honeymoon period" here, which is kind of nonexistent if you like the falling in love part of romance (aka, romance itself) or are not into pedophilia (we're in the wrong place, folks), but very quickly Clare is very unhappy because Henry is never there and Henry is very unhappy because Clare is mean when he is, and he is generally more pleased with life when he is forcibly committing sex acts with Clare before she hits the age of consent. (I am not making this up. I'm barely even being dramatic.)

But then .

Sad stories are like a trick to me at the best of times - all art that is intended to make you feel a certain way is fundamentally emotional manipulation, and more power to em but when it doesn't work it's just awkward.

This one is even sillier because these people aren't happy enough or interesting enough for their lives to be ruined, or for that ruination to inspire any sort of feeling in me. Beyond

This is the story of a woman who builds her entire life around a man who is by definition barely there, and then once he isn't there at all she continues to live a shell of an existence. In spite of

If Clare ever lived a full life for herself, following passions or doing anything interesting at all, I might have had more complicated feelings about this. But instead she lives for more than forty years still waiting for Henry, so I can just hate it.

At least my feelings can be straightforward. That's the one upside.

This does have the kind of beautiful overwrought writing that I can get behind even as I know it's silly, but also I can't stress enough that you will not understand how different 2003 is from current day until you immerse yourself in the way we talked and treated each other in 2003.

I'm saying "we" like I wasn't 6 at the time, but still.

This was an all around nightmare.

Bottom line: So grateful I was 6 then. Books are so much better now.


i truly cannot stress enough that i spend every moment of my life on this website.

so if i forget to mark a book as read, that is a bad sign of miraculous proportions.

review to come / 1 star

tbr review

sometimes i like to pretend i'm in a suburban club from 15 years ago. it's like meditation for me
Profile Image for Crumb.
189 reviews526 followers
June 5, 2018
I've been putting off writing this review for days because I knew that this would be a struggle for me. There aren't enough words in the English language that could accurately convey my feelings for The Time Traveler's Wife. If you haven't read this book, I urge you to do so. You can expect a literary experience unlike one you've ever had.

What did I love most about this book? The love story. It was truly enchanting. The two protagonists, Henry and Clare were not only meant for each other, but it was as if they were destined to be together. They will go on to face obstacle upon obstacle, but their love for one another never wanes.

Simply put, this was a book that had that Extra Something. The "X" factor or the "IT" factor, if you will. C'est magnifique!
Profile Image for Lara.
217 reviews166 followers
July 7, 2012
I am conflicted about this book. Do not let my 4 stars fool you, they are an emotional rating.

I'll start with the things I really liked about it:

Loved all the foreshadowing. The knowing something was going to happen, and maybe even a little bit of what it was, but never knowing or understanding fully until both characters had experienced the moment. And then all the foreshadowing of the tragic end. Once I started putting the puzzle together I really couldn't put it down. And I had several moments where I couldn't control the tears even long before the tragedy happens, because the foreshadowing was that emotionally charged.

I felt that the way the author set it up was ingenious. While you are reading along in a fairly chronological timeline, it is interspersed with moments of past and future as Henry travels through time. At first it felt very disjunct, but by the end I really loved the way it mirrored how Henry and Clare must feel as they lived their life in such a non-chronological manner. Especially Henry.

The love story was indeed epic. I bawled like a baby at the end, it was so tragic to me. And sweet at the same time. The way that the author addressed themes of love, fate, destiny, personal choice and, of course, time was mind blowing at times (as all time travel issues are to me) but very cool to see how it all intertwined. I liked how she dealt with the whole time travel issue in that Henry could never actually change anything in the future. Everything already happened, whether in the past or the future, because for Henry, his future is his past and his past is his future. I told you it was a bit mind blowing. But yeah, the love story was riveting.

Things I didn't like so much:

The absolutely uneccesary detail of the mundane. I felt the author spent too much time describing grocery lists (literally!) of things and music and whatever when she could have been examining the thoughts and feelings of the characters. It took me 3 weeks to read this book, and not because it was long. I didn't have any problem ignoring it for days at a time because of the tedious reading at times. Nothing in the writing made me want to keep reading until the last half of the book, which I did read much more quickly.

The language. F-word on nearly every page. Two sitings of the C-word. Totally unnecessary. The love scenes were often a bit graphic, and there were so many of them. Because of this, I started feeling that the love was based in sex more than anything and I would have like the author to explore some of the more deep feelings that did show up when Henry and Clare weren't in bed. Again, unnecessary really.

Sometimes I got confused and experienced deja vu. Knowing it was because one of the characters had already mentioned a certain event and I would often have to go through the book and find the previous mention so I could have full understanding.

Mostly though, it was a very cool book. And very emotional...at least for me. It really spoke to something in me about relationships and choices and destiny (not that I totally believe in destiny, but you know.)p
Profile Image for Erin.
56 reviews184 followers
October 11, 2011
i hate reading books that everyone keeps bothering me to read. first there are the gushing reviews from the media, complete with intelligent sound clips:

"it's so awesome! so titillating! the way the author captures that thing where the girl says that stuff and then they go to that cool place.. you know? even oprah says so!"

and then there are the crowds of friends who carry around their freshly bought "it" book (ok, i'm bitter, i can't afford to buy new books) who can't wait to share their newfound genius at having read said new "it" book. they want to tell you... ooh, but erin hasn't read it yet, has she? ugh. well we'll just have to discuss later, then. *SIGH*". have you read it yet? have you read it yet? have you read it yet? have you---OW.

"OW" being the moment i use aforementioned freshly purchased "it" book to smack someone over the head, thus ending my brief first and last encounter with said book, forever. unless it wins a nobel prize and i'm required to read it for sake of my intelligence. which has NEVER HAPPENED.

*spoiler alert* HOWEVER. (sorry, this all caps thing is growing on me)
however, a used copy of the time travelers wife was the biggest book i could find in the bargin bin before i boarded my 5 hour flight back to the east coast this holiday season, and therefore i found myself starting a novel that's been beaten over my head by all my bffs since it came out. and let me tell you, small cabin space and an a measly in-flight movie selection of "the game plan" and "george lopez's shitty sitcom whatever it's called" were the only things keeping me from dropping my interest throughout the first couple of chapters. i wanted to like these characters, because i like time travel, and anyone who gets to try it out should definitely also be cool. but i kept wondering, when does it get good? when does it get good? when does it get---

and i'm not sure when it happened, but suddenly it got GOOD. i mean, really good. it wasn't really enough for me, just wondering when claire and henry would get together, because, to be honest, i wasn't that invested in their characters. i can't explain this, because i can't pinpoint the reason. the quality of writing was decent, i can find no specific thread to rant on about the characters not being developed... there was just no hook. after the first tiny intro at the very very beginning, i kept waiting for that sense of urgency to come back. and then it did. suddenly, beautifully, there was so much for them to live for, and as soon as i got that lovely, dreadful inkling that henry was going to die... of COURSE he has to die, shut up, i didn't spoil anything, this is a love story... then i couldn't get enough. i think the build up of flash backs helped incredibly in this as well, because after i had gained this huge database of memories i was inexplicably and wonderfully tied up in the drama of their stories. it was a slow, eventual build, but the payoff was WELL (there's that caps button again! god it's fun) worth it.

which, let me tell you, almost never happens in these cases (unless you write "a million little pieces" and oprah shoves her big foot in her mouth and people like me get to watch the spectle on cnn between episodes of "arrested developement". lovely.

ps. in a random, non funny tangent, i would also like to briefly comment on the fact that she wouldn't give up having her all important baby. wow, annoying. i felt just as tired as henry. give it up woman, you're wasting precious time with him and exhausting everybody on your insane quest. don't get me wrong, i felt really bad for her during the first part... but SIX miscarriages? i know there's an element like "who could handle that much sadness", but i got to thinking, "who could bring that much death on themselves"? where is the point where you say, it's not going to work, and i'll accept that? i was frustrated because i felt like she was spending what little time she had with henry making him worried about everything when they could have just been... living.

Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
September 16, 2021
The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger

It is a love story about a man (Henry DeTamble, a librarian at the Newberry Library in Chicago) with a genetic disorder that causes him to time travel unpredictably, and about his wife, an artist, who has to cope with his frequent absences and dangerous experiences.

Henry begins time traveling at the age of five, jumping forward and backward relative to his own timeline. When he vanishes, where he goes, and how long his trips will last are beyond his control.

However, his destinations are tied to his subconscious—he most often travels to places and times related to his own history. Certain stimuli such as stress can trigger Henry's time traveling; he often goes jogging to keep calm and remain in the present.

He searches out pharmaceuticals in the future that may be able to help control his time traveling. He also seeks the advice of a geneticist, Dr. Kendrick.

Henry cannot take anything with him into the future or the past, which means that he always arrives naked and then struggles to find clothing, shelter, and food. He does amass a number of survival skills, including lock-picking, self-defense, and pickpocketing. Much of this he learns from older versions of himself.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز هفتم ماه ژوئن سال 2015میلادی

عنوان: همسر مسافر زمان - رمان؛ نویسنده: آدری نیفنگر؛ مترجم: مرجان محمدی؛ مشخصات نشر تهران، کتابسرای تندیس، 1394، در 623ص، شابک 9786001821448؛ چاپ دوم 1398؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 21م

داستان کتابداران، و سفر در زمان، داستان پرماجرای عشق، میان کتابداری به نام «هنری»، و دختری زیبا به نام «کلر»، که دانشجوی هنر است؛ «هنری» به دلیل اختلالات ژنتیکی، بدون اراده در زمان سفر میکند، و با اینکه هر دو کوشش میکنند زندگیشان روال طبیعی داشته باشند، تا خانواده تشکیل دهند، و شغل و دوستان خود را نگاه دارند، و بچه‌ دار شوند؛ اما غیب شدنهای گاه و بی‌گاه «هنری»، زندگی آن‌ها را دستخوش ماجراهایی پیش بینی ناپذیر می‌کند؛ داستان عشق، شکیبایی و وفاداری است

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 13/08/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 23/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan (Dasfill).
1,145 reviews2,179 followers
July 21, 2022
This is one of those very few books people either seem to love or hate. I wistfully belong to the latter half.

1) The character development of Henry and Claire were deplorable, especially after they became adults.

2) The narration and the plot were too complicated to follow, mainly due to switching to multiple periods via time travel. After finishing this novel, I was exhausted like a flight attendant who had continuous work for 36 hours on different flights to different time zones without rest.

3) What was the real purpose of time travel in this book? The author fails to connect it with the reader

4) Was Henry in true love with Claire? It seemed more like a jealous, abusive type of relationship. The way he spoiled the childhood of Claire by time traveling to her childhood naked and marking her like an animal, telling her that he will be her future husband was ridiculous. He totally scarred Claire's youth, and she was not able to explore her life and relationships freely after that. We can see Ayn Rand's objectivism shades in how Audrey Niffenegger created Henry's character.

5) The way infertility and miscarriage are mentioned in this book is atrocious.

6) The way the author tried to create a didactic novel about true love by depicting sex with almost every tiny detail was ludicrous.

7) The way the protagonist tried to revisit his mother's death again and again using time travel to view it from multiple angles is hard to believe. If we have the power of time travel, we will go back to see the happy moments with a person instead of going back to revisit their accidental death multiple times. It was absurd, creepy, and sadistic to the core. It was just like Henry was celebrating disasters. Just look at how the author chronicles Henry revisiting his mother's death.
“My mother dying. I time travel to it, over and over. If you could be there and if you could hover over the scene of the accident, and you could see every detail about it. If you had time to look at everything, you would see me behind the cars, behind the bushes, on the bridge, on the tree. I have seen it from every angle."

We can see glimpses of the author's brilliance in some areas of this book, and I truly loved her writing style in some parts of it. I had huge expectations when I picked up this book for reading. Sadly it didn't work out for me.
Profile Image for Jim Fonseca.
1,086 reviews7,008 followers
July 18, 2018
Very unusual for me but DNF, so I did not give it a rating. It's the story of a couple in love where the man comes back at various ages before and after he initially met his wife. When that happens we get the perspective on what's going on from both him and her. I'm not a fan of romance or sci fi, so I guess the combination of the two turned me off. I always give a book at least 20 pages and this one had so many good reviews, I went back and gave it another twenty pages but just couldn't get into it.


image from astronomytrek.com
Profile Image for Swrp.
665 reviews
November 27, 2021
"All I ask for are humble delights - a mystery novel in bed, the smell of Claire's long gold hair damp from washing, a post card from a friend on vacation, cream dispersing into coffee, the softness of the skin under Clare's breasts, the symmetry of the grocery bags waiting on the kitchen counter to be unpacked..."

"Daylight in the swamp. The birds are singing and the frogs are croaking and it's time to get up!"

Audrey Niffenegger`s The Time Traveler's Wife is a brilliant tale about, of course as the title suggests, the Wife of The Time Traveler. About 90% of the book title suggests this to be a science-fiction fantasy mystery, but it is the 10% towards the end that holds the key, the direction and the answer. This story is of extraordinary love, which starts in one of the most beautiful and sacred places to be in this world - a library! It does feel strange but not at all surprising that while Clare, the wife knows and understands Henry, the time-travelling husband, it is Henry who seems to be mostly lost and clueless. It is Clare`s love, loyalty and devotion for Henry over the years, that keeps Henry on track and find a purpose ['Our love has been the thread through the labyrinth, the net under the high-wire walker, the only real thing in this strange life of mine that I could ever trust.'].

Niffenegger`s writing is beautiful ['Clare blushes. The blush spreads like drops of blood in a bowl of milk'.] and vivid, and the characters are magical and memorable ['and we laugh, and laugh, and nothing can ever be sad, no one can be lost, or dead, or far away: right now we are here, and nothing can mar our perfection, or steal the joy of this perfect moment'].


"Do you ever wish you could stop time?" Clare asks. "I wouldn't mind staying here forever."

Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,202 reviews40.7k followers
May 16, 2022
When I heard that HBO finally adapted this amazing book into limited series, I couldn’t get more excited! The trailer was also promising! Casting choices are not marvelous but I still hold my hopes high!

This masterpiece may be one of my favorite reads I never get bored to reread over and over! It’s marvelous sci-if, intriguing action packed mystery and of course tear jerker, extremely emotional love story!

Henry DeTamble, a librarian from Chicago has a genetic disorder force him move back and forth in time since he was five. He has an artist wife Clare has known him since she was six. She does everything to adapt in this strange condition of the man she loves!

But things get escalated at each chapter: Henry vanished into thin air without his control, finding himself jumped into another timeline, naked, vulnerable. But he has to learn how to survive in different time zones without money, proper ID, appropriate story. That’s why he sharpens his pickpocketing, lock-picking and combat skills to fight against the threats.

Could Dr. Kendrick,famous geneticist help him to find a solution about his disorder or could he use it for his own benefit?

Highly recommended, well written, fast pacing, mind blowing! Just read it before watch the adaptation!
Profile Image for Laura.
108 reviews24 followers
September 2, 2008
Just because something is popular does not mean it's good. Mass "taste" is often incredibly bad. Such is the case with this book, only it's not incredibly bad, just not worth the hours it takes to read it.

It seems like every fiction book I've read in the past couple of years is highly depressing, this one included. My life is full enough of it's own challenges and disappointments that I'd like to read to escape. Yes, if novels are full of heartache and struggle, they are realistic and more accurately reflecting real life. Well, this book is clearly not realistic anyway, and the amount of trauma that happened to Henry went beyond what an average person encounters. I appreciate what Niffenegger was trying to do, and it certainly has it's romanticism, but it was not enjoyable to read.

At the beginning, I had a hard time getting past the ridiculousness of the time traveling man that is the main premise of the book. I compared it to the annoying, short-lived tv show "Journeyman", the (also depressing) movie "Premonition", and the time-traveling bits in "Lost". To better swallow it, I thought of it as a children's book for adults. So I finally got past the goofiness of time-travelin' Henry. It was interesting how the author put together all the different past and futures. I thought she did a good job with how she chose to order them in the book. Where was the plot though? While this is not a traditional story in its presentation, if you put the different scenes in sequential order it should be. Instead of a story with much of a plot though, it was more like an anthropological ethnographic study of Clare and Henry. One third of the book was just them having sex and making coffee. It read to me as more of a descriptive chronicle than a tale with messages to relay.

I also thought that Niffenegger never fully developed certain pieces like what happened to Henry's dad after Henry visited him and he was barely holding it together. Later in the book, he comes across as a typical, mostly functioning father, but we don't see how that change occurred. It also isn't clear why Henry likes Gomez. It must be nice for Henry to have a friend who knows his secret, and Gomez does some stuff to help out Henry and Clare, but why the bond? The first time they all have dinner together, Gomez is highly rude to Henry, but then the next time they meet during one of the time travels, they're all buddy-buddy. It's not like Henry's just using him for help; he actually likes him on some emotional level. One would think Gomez being in love with Clare would get in the way of that.

To wrap this up, I also think the author tries too hard to make Clare and Henry cool: Clare with her dramatic artsiness and Henry with his incredible scope of book knowledge and languages, plus all the stuff about their music tastes. I don't think she does a very good job of showing how Henry goes from being the selfish, lost young jerk to the caring, mature husband. It's supposed to be Clare's influence, but the process is not really shown. There's another huge gap in info that bothers me, but it would be a spoiler. (Hard to believe you could have a spoiler without much plot, but there are a couple pieces that are major events in the book.)

All in all, interesting concept tying time travel to romance, but with real life being trying enough, I need something more light-hearted.
Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,377 reviews1,435 followers
December 22, 2021
A big no thank you to The Time Traveler's Wife. To the legions of fans of this book, I'd like to know what you enjoyed about it. What did I miss? I see that it's won a pile of awards- I feel like I completely missed something and I would like to understand your point of view.

I thought I was in for a sweet romance but all I got was a time traveler who cheated at the lottery, beat people up for clothes, and engaged in sexual hijinks with time traveling versions of himself.

I was completely creeped out by the fact that Henry is Clare's best friend from the time that she was 6. She was groomed from that young age to be his wife, no matter that it wasn't consummated until later. How awful is that. When she is essentially date raped, she doesn't go to the police, Clare goes to Henry who engages in some vigilante justice. It was horrible what happened to her, but she should have reported it to the authorities.

The yuck factor from a bunch of places absolutely ruined the book for me not to mention that fact that Clare never really had a childhood or life at all without Henry in it. That's not romantic, it's sad.

Anyway, my apologies if you loved it. Like I said, I am willing to consider other opinions on this book- I just really can't recommend it.
Profile Image for Becky.
1,339 reviews1,631 followers
October 25, 2012
I am not a romance reader by nature. That's not to say that I don't enjoy them from time to time, but I just don't usually gravitate toward romance. And to be completely honest, I had absolutely zero intention of reading this book, ever. But then it was chosen as my October Bookclub book, so my intentions just became irrelevant.

So, now that I've read it... Umm... Well. I think that this book did have an interesting premise, and in another author's hands, could have been fantastic. But most of the time while reading this, I just kept feeling, well, manipulated and skeptical. All I kept thinking as I read this was how implausible it all was. And I'm not just talking about the time-travel.

Just to forewarn you, this long (really long) Ranty McRanter Review may contain spoilery stuff.

This book's description says "[...]this is the remarkable story of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who travels involuntarily through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare's passionate love affair endures across a sea of time and captures the two lovers in an impossibly romantic trap[...]".

Uh huh.

"Impossibly romantic trap"? Well. A trap of some kind, anyway.

My biggest issue here is that Clare's life has been entirely determined by Henry, with a little help from his unknown ally, the Catholic Church. Henry's told her what her life is and will be: She will be his wife. And because of her Catholic upbringing, the concept of predestination is not at all foreign to her (remember, God has a plan for us all), and so she accepts it as a matter of course. She sees him as her closest friend, the person who knows the most about her in the world, the person who loves her the most in the world, and as a young girl who is just starting to form ideas about romantic love, I'd imagine that to her he's like a God. An all-knowing (he knows her future) but mysterious (because he won't tell her about it, or anything about himself), unconditionally loving (I don't think I need to explain this one), metaphysical or supernatural being (time traveler, remember?), and who is just waiting for her to accept him (well, actually, just to get old enough to do so). I don't think it's much of a stretch, honestly.

So, leaving aside the paradox of their relationship technically being impossible (they only meet in the present because of Henry telling her where they will while visiting Clare in the past), it strikes me as incredibly unfair to Clare that from 6 years old, when she meets a naked man claiming to be a time traveler in the meadow near her house, her life becomes tethered to Henry. Now, I can see a 6 year old accepting a story of a time traveler. A 6 year old's imagination is a wild thing, and children can accept and cope with concepts that would drive adults to drink. But as Clare gets older, and learns more about her life with Henry - that they are married, specifically - it becomes less and less plausible to me that someone would be able to accept that.

How does she know that he's not lying to her, or manipulating her into the life he claims she will live with him? She doesn't know anything at all about him other than the fact that he shows up naked in her yard repeatedly and claims to be her husband in the future. To me, the time travel itself isn't enough evidence. He could be a time traveler AND a liar.

It just seems to me like a waste. A waste of a life that Clare could have had that would have been fulfilling and satisfying without Henry in it. Considering the fleeting nature of their relationship, and the massive extent of time she spent waiting for him, I just don't think it was worth it, and to me, Henry is incredibly selfish for pursuing that life for her.

The waiting is just endless...

And here's where it gets confusing, because Henry believes that the past can't be changed to affect the future, right? So, 42 year old Henry meeting 6 year old Clare in the past leads to 28 year old Henry meeting 20 year old Clare in the present. It's destined because 42 year old Henry's past contains that meeting at 28. Right?

But, Henry's theory is kind of crap because the whole thing is a paradox. He went to a past from a future that couldn't have existed UNLESS he changed the past in order to affect the future.

And this is another reason why this book felt manipulate-y. I feel like we're not supposed to examine it in this way, and just read it for the love story and the heartbreaking sadness that this time-travel thing causes in the time traveler's wife's life. We're supposed to see this as an epic romance. We're supposed to see the relationship as the central focus, we're supposed to accept this at face value (as everyone accepts Henry's time travel and 20 years worth of him gallivanting around naked in the Newberry Library without losing his job, which is completely plausible, of course) and not give it too much thought, because if we look too closely, we can see there's not much there.

Henry is described as something of a player by everyone but Clare. A cheater, a heartbreaker, emotionally unavailable... yet we never see this. Not one time. Ingrid (who we don't see with Henry in a Clareless present) is the bitter, devastated ex, and whatshername Celia? is the one trying to catch Ingrid on the rebound, so of course she's going to play up the Henry-the-Dog thing. But I don't buy it. Pics or it didn't happen, as they say. If you're going to claim someone's a player, you need to back it up - in real life and in fictional time travel stories. Show him time travel back and interrupt his younger self mid-affair. Then I'd believe it.


Instead, all we see is Henry the Totally Devoted To Clare. He loves her more than love ever loved love and therefore they are DESTINED, and so it shall be. Henry knows what's going to happen, and therefore he doesn't even try. He just sits back and let's the future come to him. Kendrick's going to be his doctor because he is. It happens because it has already happened. So no need to get all rowdy and make an effort or anything. *Yawn*

In fact that's another thing. There's absolutely ZERO conflict in this book. None. Henry gets arrested for indecent exposure on a freeway in 1963? Conveniently he disappears before he's booked. Want something? Take it. Something's weird? Accepted. Family troubles? Just introduce your new wife, then all tension is gone. If there's a snag, it's always a momentary one, and it always works out in the end. UGH. Jeez!

Anyway! Where was I? Oh yes, characters. Clare. She is... Well. This is going to be unpopular, but Clare is just an older, slightly (very slightly) less annoying version of Bella Swan. She has no life other than Henry. Her friends become his friends (because it's not like he has any of his own. Oh, wait, his old Korean babysitter counts, I guess). Her life is completely engrossed by his and there's no part of it that is Henryless. She's completely devoted to this guy who had to ship in an extra to appear at his own wedding because he's too unreliable to actually be there in present time. Just the kind of life every girl dreams of on their big day! :D

Oops, close, but not quite!

Supposedly Clare's an artist or something...? Yeah. Something like that. I guess. I live with an artist. And the art TAKES OVER EVERYTHING. There's art and art supplies and potential art supplies and scribbles and drawings and markers and paint and art... just... EVERYWHERE. It's not a hobby, it's a part of the Boy's LIFE. This creative need. So when Clare is described as making stuff like 3 times in the book, complete with step by step directions and an accompanying Create-It-Yourself! shopping list for the reader... it rings false with me. I don't see her as being an artist. I see her as being a toy that Henry picks up and plays with when he's around, and who sits on the shelf and waits for him to come back and play with her again when he's not around. And when it's convenient (aka: will reinforce the romance, like when she sketches Henry), Niffenegger sticks her in a studio with some art supplies and calls her an artist. That's not character development, that's just lazy. Oh but wait, you say, what about the bird sculptures? Oh right, those, how could I forget, because they were so massively important to the story that they were mentioned like one time. Henry's job is mentioned a bazillion times, and Clare's work mentions I could count on one hand. Lazy. For real. The book is called The Time Traveler's WIFE, why is there not more about Clare? Why is there not more TO Clare?

And, speaking of shopping lists, seriously, I don't need an entire recipe recitation for each and every meal they eat. And the kinds of meals they eat are ridiculous. I don't believe that a 20 year old and her 2 punk-rock rebel anarchist roommates are drinking merlot and eating wild mushroom risotto. I can't even roll my eyes enough at that shit. But that's not even the best. I mean, Niffenegger's descriptions are insanely long anyway (the quality of the light glinting off of this or that, dew on the thinger I don't care about at all, the texture of the whatchamajig, blah blah blah) but at one point Henry is unpacking groceries and EVERY. SINGLE. ITEM. is listed before getting to the point of the list: a shocker item. THERE WERE 32 ITEMS. THIRTY-EFFING-TWO!! I counted. Unlike Clare, I am not fascinated by celery stalks and cans of creamed corn. So I gave approximately 0% of one shit about 31 of the items that were listed before the SHOCKER ITEM. Gah. Thirty-two. Seriously.

Another thing that really bugged me were the miscarriages. There were times that they were written in such a way that I wasn't sure if it was a nightmare of Clare's or reality - I'm still not sure, but I think it was supposed to be reality. I admit to skimming quite a bit, so maybe I missed something. Blood-soaked sheets and bed, and a little tiny fetus breathing its last in her hand? What? Maybe Niffenegger isn't familiar with the stages of fetal development, but lungs are pretty much the last things to develop, so that's just... weird.

But then finally, FINALLY Clare gets preggers, with her husband who is time travelling from the past. She cheated on her hubby with her hubby while in bed with her hubby, who is sleeping. But hey, that's OK. They are used to being in bed with each other, eh, 15 year old Henry and 15 year & 6 months old Henry? *elbow nudge*

Anyway... Toward the end of the book there are quite a few events that feel manipulative in order to cause a certain event. Henry's feet are important to him. This is drilled into the reader time and again. He runs because he needs to run when he time travels and lands somewhere buck-naked, raising all kinds of suspicions. So of course, something happens to his feet. Not just one, which would have had the same effect, likely, but BOTH. For the shock value. And to me, it was just not necessary at all. Because THE EVENT would probably have happened anyway - it happened in an eyeblink. And the repercussions from that event are... well. We're supposed to be crushed.

I think this book is doing it wrong.

I won't lie and say that I wasn't affected, though... but it wasn't because of the characters themselves. It was because I imagine myself in the position of losing someone I love, and know how heartbroken I'd have been. But then I get angry, because in the goodbye letter he leaves for her, the one in which he tells her to live her life and be happy, he mentions - just as an aside, you know!- that he visits her in the far flung future. And that leaves her waiting for him again... for 50+ years. How horribly selfish do you have to be to do that to someone? Is that a comfort? I don't think so. I think it's exactly the opposite. It's torture to make someone wait in uncertainty for over half their life for one brief momentary visit.

Such a waste, and the more I think about this book, the more I find to dislike in it. It's not romantic, it's depraved.

Yeah... so. I could go on, like about how the different perspectives were written and how even with the abrupt shift in POV I could never tell who was narrating unless I either checked or got lucky and one was talking directly to the other, because there was no difference in character voice at all, but the longer I do, the more annoyed I get, and I have better books I could be reading.
Profile Image for Claire Greene.
23 reviews65 followers
March 26, 2008
I have a serious love/hate relationship with this book. The good stuff:
I really liked the jumps back and forth in time - surprisingly, the author was able to keep it all straight and I never really felt so terribly confused that I just wanted to give up.

I loved the Henry character. I really loved him. He was flawed, he tried so hard to be a good man, etc etc. I just really loved this character.

I liked the love story - I felt that the feelings between the two of them were real and so deep. So often a love story goes for huge dramatics to prove the deep love between two people and
I liked that she didn't do that - you see their love for each other in what they do, how they talk, how they touch.

I liked how the author kept the time traveling dark - the idea that he has no money and no clothes and has to scramble to stay alive and not arrested, etc etc. was great - very realistic for an unreal premise.

I actually liked that they threw in the genetic testing and whatever of the time traveling disorder. I know many people felt that it was ridiculous, or felt like it was just shoved in there, but I really thought it brought a realism to the story. It helped take the story out of the sci-fi realm and put it more in reality. All of a sudden it became about a person with a disease and a family fighting to hold it together rather than a mysterious hole in the universe. I don't normally like pseudo science, but I actually thought it worked here.

The bad stuff:

I hated the name dropping, etc. I know some people liked it, but I just hated it. Yeah, I get it - he liked punk music. Wow. It just felt so contrived and fake to me. It felt more like the AUTHOR likes punk music and art and architecture and whatever else and was putting in those names as a shout out to her "peeps". Like, hey guys, if you know who this is you are part of a super secret cool club - yeah!! Not so much.

I thought the Claire character was criminally flat. I agree with another reviewer that said the book was called "The Time Traveler's WIFE" and yet she is mostly a non-character. Now, I don't have a problem with the idea that she ended up devoting her life to Henry. That her commitment to him overshadowed other choices she could have made in life - well, I thought that was pretty realistic and understandable. If her husband got in a car crash and was a vegetable for the rest of his life, and to take care of him she ended up having to forgo many choices and let her life be dictated by this man and his medical needs, we wouldn't be arguing as much about it. But that doesn't mean she doesn't have her own dreams, thoughts, needs, desires, etc. which the author could have spent more time dealing with and developing. I really felt that Claire was mainly there as an object for Henry to love - not her own person. You never feel that Claire loved Henry and made this choice, this sacrifice - you feel that it was inevitable because the author said so.

Claire's family was ridiculously flat. If Claire was not developed enough, her family wasn't developed at all. They are pretty much cardboard cut outs of stereotypes propped up at certain points in the story to help keep the plot going. And where the heck do they live again that EVERYONE has money. Not just money, but Money.

I got sick and tired of the pregnancies and miscarriages. How many times before you realize you are harming yourself and your husband to the point that you will never recover? Given what happens to him and all - aren't their lives hard enough?? Why do that to yourselves over and over? I understand the strong desire for a child, but why not adopt? Why was that not an option? I can't remember at that point if they knew it was a genetic disorder or not - but if they did, would they really want that for their child - wouldn't that be even more of a reason to adopt? And what the heck were they going to tell that child?? Given how talky the characters were, I was pretty surprised that there were no heartfelt discussions of how exactly they were going to raise a child in that type of environment and what they would tell other people, etc,

I really didn't like the abrupt cut from the grief on Henry dying to her being 85. That is a lot of time to cover and it felt cheap to not give even a token synopsis of how her and her daughter dealt with his death and her having the same disorder. I honestly can't decide whether her being able to see him one last time (it was him as a younger man jumping way ahead in time, so it was the past for Henry who was still dead) was touching or cruel. To deal with a devastating loss like that and so much time has gone by and to just have him pop back in like that - are you glad for one more precious moment or is it terribly cruel to give hope and snatch it away? And to do that to the daughter too?? I don't know.....

My feelings about the ending depend on my mood. Somedays I feel that the ending was depressing but realistic. Not everything has a happy ending and I hate it when movies and TV show that ANY problem can be solved in 30 minutes! So having something real, even if difficult, felt right. Other days I feel like it was crap. Sure life isn't always great but it isn't always crap either. And I hate fatalism like that - I hate the idea that life is crap and there is no escaping it.

I was also annoyed with Henry quitting - just giving up on life for so long after the feet thing. I get that he was depressed and all. I do. But he has lived his whole life not being able to depend on anything - not where he will wake up, not if he'll have money, not be able to see or be with the people he loves, having to be deposited in the middle of no where and scramble for clothes, food and money with no idea when and where he will return? This is a man who is incredibly resourceful and resilient. I just had a hard time believing that he would quit like that. Then again, I would imagine all those years of doing just that would take a toll on him and that was the final blow he just couldn't handle. But no, I still think it was out of character.

And the truly terrible

The two things that are just atrocious in this book - the references to her families black servants and Henry's friend and downstairs neighbor growing up, Kimmy. Wow. Holy Stereotypes batman!! Even given Claire's family having money and being upper crust and all - the whole description of them and the black servants was so odd and anachronistic. Wait - when did we all time travel to 1776?? Why is Mammy here? And with Henry's downstairs neighbor - she was slightly better written and I enjoyed her character in relation to Henry and all, but again, she was so stereotypical with the broken en-ga-rish and all. I don't know how she got away with those representations at all - how did not one editor or something say," uh, Audrey, could we talk about these ethnic characters? They might be a little too ethnic." Seriously. Absurd.

So that is it- I loved parts of this book and hated parts of this book. There was a lot that was well done and some that was criminal. I don't know if I wish someone else had taken this idea and written it or if I wish the author had held onto this idea until she had more books under her belt and could do it justice. Either way, I just can't truly recommend this book but I can't tell people to avoid it either. AARGH!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for هدى يحيى.
Author 8 books16k followers
August 25, 2018

زوجة مسافر عبر الزمن

قد تكون رواية بسيطة ليست ذات أبعاد ولا تناقش فلسفة معينة
لكنها أحد أكثر الروايات التي قرأتها إمتاعا

هي فانتازيا رومانسية جميلة
وعلى الرغم من ذلك فهي أكثر من مجرد تسلية وإضاعة للوقت

تتسم الرواية بكثيرٍ من الدفء والصدق
بلا ابتذال ولا مزايدة
وتمت معالجة الفانتازيا هنا بحرفية شديدة

القصة شديدة الغرابة عن رجل يسافر عبر الزمن
ليقابل حب عمره بطريقة لم يتقابل بها عاشقين من قبل
وبرغم صفحاتها العديدة إلا أنني لم أملّ لحظة واستمتعت بكل تفاصيلها الصغيرة

هذه الرواية جعلتني مرتاحة وسعيدة
قضيتُ وقتا ممتعا ووقعتُ في غرام الشخصيات

تذكرني قصة الحب في هذه الرواية بهذه الأغنية الدافئة
26 reviews2 followers
September 1, 2007
i feel there is a special circle of hell reserved for authors who make a fortune by blatantly ripping off better--but less mainstream--authors from the past and passing the ideas off as their own. I therefore will not review this book but instead re-direct the curious to a 1976 novel called Kindred by Octavia Butler, ostensibly a sci-fi novel but in fact a lean, precise and totally imaginative book for any alert reader.

Avoid bloat, trashiness, sexism, predictability and slowness: don't read this one. Read Kindred! It is gorgeous, thoughtful, sexy, and oh yes--feminist and anti-racist. Yeah!
Profile Image for April.
268 reviews73 followers
March 31, 2008
I adore this book. I love it with all my heart. The first few pages were a delight, a surprise, and from then on it was a sweet love affair. I wanted both to have read the book all at once and also to have it all yet unread so I could savor it. I simply didn't want it to end.

The story is about two people, the time traveler and his wife. On the surface, they are like any two people who love each other in modern times, except for the fact that he travels through time. You'd think that fact would make this science fiction, but this is more a romance -- actually, more a great love story than anything. A love that transcends time.

While the science fiction part of it IS interesting, it really is all about the couple, Henry and Clare. Henry's ability to time travel almost becomes a metaphor. For what? Whatever it is a reader wishes to imagine. But there'd be no story without it, as it's very intricately woven into the romance. It's unlikely they ever would have met and come together without it.

Henry and Clare both tell the story in their first person points of view, in the present tense, to indicate the here and now, though the scenes might be all at once the past, the present, and the future. They take turns, not only in telling the story, but in knowing what's to come. So the story unfolds like a flower, with each scene a petal of rosy revelation, where you see both sides -- first the outside, then the inside -- as it blooms and shows yet another petal within, ready to unfurl.

The plotting is amazing. Things that happened in one's past, halfway mentioned, become a foreshadowing of what's to come for another, and in the end, things just fall into place; bad or good, you know that whatever just happened was supposed to happen. You can't really worry about the paradoxes, though. You just have to let go of the feeling that something might never have happened were it not for one thing or another. However tangled up the cause and effect become, the whole thing seemed fated and comes full circle.

I suspect that this book inspired the TV series Journeyman, which I also love. However, they have made it light years easier for the time traveler in Journeyman. When Henry time travels, he brings nothing with him. He can't. Anything that isn't a part of his body is left behind, so he arrives naked and must steal clothes and shoes. When the man in Journeyman travels, he takes with him whatever he is wearing or holding, so he has his clothes and his cash. When Henry time travels, he is unable to change anything that, for him, has already happened. When the Journeyman time travels, it is expressly so he can go back and change the past, and when he returns to his present, things are not quite what they were when he left.

And even though the science fiction part of this book is actually fairly understated, Henry's version of time travel seems much more real to me, more plausible. His life with Clare makes it even more so because we see how it affects the two of them and their relationship with each other and with other people. Only the media seems left out of it, and I think that if Henry's ability was real, it would be very much in the media in one form or another.

I really wish I could articulate everything that I love about this book, but I think the best way to share what I'm feeling for the book right now is to recommend it to everyone I know.

Hints of Lolita again, but sweeter and more innocent.

Finished reading March 30, 2008.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,893 reviews352 followers
March 2, 2018
If I had to define "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger in two words they would be: poignant and excessive—two words that also illustrate my mixed feelings about Niffenegger’s first novel.

“The Time Traveler’s Wife” is about many things. Obviously time travel is an important feature, but this novel is also about librarians, artists, punk rock, and alcoholics. It’s also about love.

Henry meets his wife, Clare, for the first time when he is 28 and Clare is 20. Clare met Henry for the first time when she was six and Henry was 36. Henry is, literally, a time traveler. Henry has a disease: a cellular disorder that leaves him unglued in time, traveling at random to various points in the past and future of his own life and, inexplicably, to Clare’s childhood. Henry cannot hold onto any of his possessions when he time travels—no clothes, no food, no money—a fact that often has a disastrous effect on Henry’s life.

Throughout it all, Clare is at Henry’s side faithfully waiting for him to return to her and their life together.

Niffenegger alternates viewpoints, narrating the story in both Henry’s and Clare’s voice. Despite giving the characters equal narration time, Clare remains painfully one-dimensional. She is defined by her love for Henry, her artistic career and, unfortunately, little else.

Thankfully, Henry is written much more fully. Working as a librarian at the Newberry in his present, Henry also has a complex life “out of time." He is also well-versed in the culture of drugs and drinking. Really, Henry is a mess in every sense of the word. Despite all of his problems, though, Henry remains redeemable. Throughout the novel he clings to a certain charm, a quality that makes it plausible to believe that Clare really did love him long before Henry first met her.

The novel jumps from past to present and back again as Niffenegger aptly looks at how Henry’s past intersects with his present and his future, and his evolving relationship with Clare. These examinations are a particular strength of the novel. Niffenegger manages to discuss events multiple times without being redundant. At the same time she creates a complex storyline without making it impossible to follow.

Unfortunately, she does also falter. Most of the novel’s shortcomings stem from some kind of excess. First and foremost, it’s too long. (The hardcover edition runs 600 pages.) Particularly in the second half of the novel, it feels like Niffenegger takes on too much. There are too many characters to remember, too many events only tangentially relevant to the core plot. All things considered, the novel could easily have been at least a hundred pages shorter.

For this reason, the premise of the plot has some fundamental flaws—points that make no sense in relation to the rest of the narrative. On the whole, these blips are annoying but not damning (especially given the fact that the novel is marketed as general fiction as opposed to science fiction).

“The Time Traveler’s Wife” also veers dangerously close to melodrama, raining biblically disastrous situations on both Henry and Clare. Given the ending of the novel, one would think that merely being a time traveler would be enough bad luck to last both of their lifetimes. Aside from being plain old mean, this focus on events makes it difficult to develop the characters. Many interesting people walk in and out of Henry’s life, but few of them are adequately utilized in the book.

The scope of the narrative is vast and strongly cinematic, which leads me to two conclusions: One is that this story might have been better had someone else written it. The other is that the upcoming film adaptation will be better than the novel. Given the fascinating story and characters here, hopefully that will be the case.

You can find this review and more on my blog Miss Print
Profile Image for Kat Kennedy.
475 reviews16.2k followers
February 15, 2010
I almost feel that the author wrote this book in two halves. The first half she wrote while at the pique of her ability and enthusiasm. The second half she wrote while on some very impressive anti-depressants.

The first half of this book is sweet, wistful, beautiful and touching.

The second half of this book is heart breaking, depressing and sloppily written.

I finished this book wondering what the hell I'd actually gotten out of it. My not-so-startling conclusion was: nothing.

When I read a book, I like to come away with something - even if it's merely a story worth remembering to cherish in my mind, or a lesson well learned, or an experience I'll probably never have but I now felt as though I'd had.

This book offers none of that and I'm wondering why Ms. Niffenegger actually wrote it to begin with? What was she trying to say with this story?

Marriage sucks? Religion is for the young and naive? True love lasts until the first heart breaking obstacle?

When you figure it out, please tell me.
Profile Image for Jonathan Ashleigh.
Author 1 book119 followers
January 12, 2016
For whatever reason, when I stared reading The Time Taveler’s Wife, I was in possession of two copies. I opted to leave a copy at work and the other at home and I read at least a few pages everyday. This meant that each time I picked up the book I was slightly lost, and wondering were I was, while I searched to find my place within the pages. One copy was older and more worn than the other, with writing in the margins and creased corners. The other book was brand new and living in the present.

Even with the time lost searching for my place, this book turned into a quick read. The premise behind it was a great idea and, while the author demanded a lot of faith from the reader, it was fun to get into the story. Even with all the questions surrounding the strange affliction attributed to the main character, I cared for the characters and worried about their destiny.
Profile Image for Morgan.
149 reviews91 followers
June 4, 2016
Rating this was really hard, because I really liked it (really, really liked it) but I have such qualms with the ending, which could very possibly be a testament to Niffenegger's writing, I'm not sure. Anyway.

There were several things I wanted to talk about while I was reading it, more or less having to do with the notion of time-travel in the book. Obviously, there's always the immediate connection between Henry DeTamble and Billy Pilgrim, both of which are unstuck in time, Henry because of a bizarre disorder and Billy because of an existential break-down possibly hightened by Post Traumatic Shock Syndrome (I believe that's what it's "technically" called, but don't quote me) (this is also a literary theory I find to be too easy of an excuse). But also I found parallels between TTW and Octavia Butler's "Kindred," the story of a black woman pulled back through time by one of her ancestors, a white slaveholder, to the period before the Civil War. The interesting thing I found about both of these are the link between Dana and Rufus (in "Kindred") that defies time and space, and an almost identical link between Henry and young Clare as an agenda to look at the concept of "soul mates." This then creates an ontological question concerning the nature of free-will and destiny, as Niffenegger herself states numerous times that Henry believes in free-will to a point, in that he's free to do whatever or so he believes, but because he is so immeshed in time what happens between him and Clare is more destiny: they are free to do what they will, but they'll always end up where they are meant to be type thing.

Another aspect that struck me was the idea of time being a biological construct, which was like "holy shit rock on!" Because time itself is little more than our perception of change and cause-and-effect, and the physical concept of space-time is nonlinear, that all time happens right now and it will always happen at any given moment, not so much circular as it is ever-present. But the notion that time itself can be a flux in our biological make-up was STUNNING. If I were a little more awake, maybe I could expound a little more about why that interested me so much.

(But to that effect, it did bother me a little that Niffenegger told her story more or less linearally, despite the constant jumping back and forth that Henry undergoes. I almost wish the whole thing was like that, with very little linear telling [which of course would be problematic with Clare's perception of events; hmmm . . .:]).


This was one of the saddest books I've ever read, aside from "Where the Red Fern Grows," but what I didn't like was that there was no real time to devote to being sad and crying over Henry's fate/destiny/end because the story kept going, no moment to allow the reader a bit of catharsis. And this probably wouldn't have been so bad if Henry hadn't lost his feet and could do nothing else but wait for his final moment. I felt that Henry was such a dynamic character and that he would have been one of those types of people who burn out instead of fade away, if he were a real person, but in the narrative he's not given that chance. When he flashes back to that morning at the Meadow I wanted him to be running when he's shot, not simply appearing, getting shot, and returning to the New Year's party. And the story kept going after! Which, granted, it is actually more of Clare's story (she is, of course, the time-traveler's wife and gets the first and final words of the story), and this does illuminate Henry's ever-present being in time and space. And then maybe he's not so much fading away as he is always existing. I don't know. I have mixed feelings about it.
Profile Image for James.
Author 19 books3,575 followers
August 29, 2017
3 stars to Audrey Niffenegger's novel, The Time Traveler's Wife, published in 2003 and later made into a movie. This one is a hard book for me to rate. There was so many great things in it, but there was also a lot that made me step away and think about how it all happened...

A young couple are constantly ravaged by the husband's ability to move between time periods, but rarely in a controlled way. They are stuck in a haphazard relationship, never knowing when he may just disappear for months at a time. As a result, readers put the pieces of their love story together chapter by chapter... knowing the conclusion to some things before you find out how it happened.

What I Liked
1. The entire concept of moving around throughout someone's life, not knowing what time period it is until a few things happen. This created a lot of suspense and drama, which for the most part worked significantly well; however, on a few occasions, it pushed me over the limit of confusion.

2. It's a heart-breaking tale of what happens to a young couple who very much want to be together, in love and share a lifetime of orderly memories. Note, I said, orderly memories.

3. The images created are quite wonderful. With words being the tool to convey the emotion of something none of us have ever been through, it's especially important to have strong visuals. This was successful on most occasions. And when it wasn't, I didn't dislike it; just wasn't anything special.

4. It was unique... hardly ever, if ever, done before, in such a way or manner. The author should be praised for it.

What I Didn't Like
1. The concept was too complicated. I kept stopping to think if the author built the scene correctly. I naturally doubted it, assumed there was a mistake in the time sequence. Maybe that says more about me being a Doubter than it does about the book... OK, maybe I should stop here on this item.

2. Some of the passages were included purely for humor, and the effects on other people of his time travel were a bit too much. I'm good with someone getting beat up, or some silly naked embarrassment... but it felt too contrived and one-sided.

3. I wasn't happy with the ending... and that's all I say.

Now What
You really should read it and then watch the movie. It's a different way of handling the story, so that's why I suggest both. Ultimately, it's the kind of book where you think you love it, but then things start falling apart in your mind about the gaps and the confusion... and you feel like you had part of a story, not the whole thing. But this is one you need to check out for yourself. Just go in knowing it's not a brilliant and perfect piece of literature. Still a good story, and possibly a bit higher than a 3 on my scale, but I'm sticking with the rating.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

[polldaddy poll=9729544]

[polldaddy poll=9719251]
Profile Image for Maggie Stiefvater.
Author 88 books168k followers
June 18, 2008
What I love about THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE is that Niffenegger absolutely nails the relationship between Henry and Claire. For all the book's faults (in particular a draggy middle), I haven't read a book yet with such chemistry between the two main characters. Add to that Niffenegger's beautiful use of language and dry sense of humor and this is a book I keep going back to.

***wondering why all my reviews are five stars? Because I'm only reviewing my favorite books -- not every book I read. Consider a novel's presence on my Goodreads bookshelf as a hearty endorsement. I can't believe I just said "hearty." It sounds like a stew.****
Profile Image for Bionic Jean.
1,228 reviews1,062 followers
April 7, 2023
The Time Traveller's Wife was published in 2003. It was Audrey Niffenegger's first novel, and is a surprisingly accomplished feat, involving a complicated time structure and alternating first-person perspectives. The two main characters, Henry and Clare, are introduced by way of a Prologue. The couple meet in a library in Chicago, but while Clare clearly knows Henry very well, and has done for a long time, Henry does not seem to know who she is. He is vaguely dazzled by this "luminous creature", who insists that she has known him since she was six years old ... at which time he was 43.

Since Clare is now 20, and Henry is 28, this seems a confusing scenario for the reader. We gradually come to understand that this is because Henry has been travelling from his future to her past, and that in her past they had fallen in love. We understand that Henry hasn't actually yet met Clare in his own present. Henry, therefore is the time traveller, and Clare is his eponymous wife. This sets a pattern for the rest of the story, which largely follows Clare's life but is interspersed with some of Henry's time-travelling adventures. Audrey Niffenegger explains that Henry has been born with a genetic dysfunction, which she terms, "chrono-displacement".

The Time Traveller's Wife is divided into three parts. The first Book: "The Man Out Of Time", broadly covers Clare's growing understanding of the unique relationship she is to have with Henry. Clare has carefully kept a diary, which details all the future dates for Henry's visits, and she shows him this on almost their first meeting. The obvious result is that Henry feels rather overwhelmed and confused, and does not know what to make of it all, but also finds himself very attracted to Clare, her obvious passion and fervent loyalty. It also squares with his own experience and what he knows about himself.

Henry can remember the first time he time travelled, on his fifth birthday. He had enjoyed his first visit to a Museum of Natural History in Chicago so much, that later on he found that he had suddenly been pulled back there in time to the museum. The novel breaks the accepted rules of most time travel books at this point,

A major shift in the narrative comes, as we next read a description of the event Clare has already referred to. We jump to the first time she as a 6-year-old met the 43-year-old Henry in a meadow, near her family's house on Lake Michigan. Henry had called out to Clare from behind a bush, where he was trying to conceal his naked self. Oddly, this apparently rather dubious situation comes across in the story as being rather sweet, with a very self-possessed young Clare, merely handing Henry her picnic blanket so he can cover himself up.

The book follows her childhood and teenage years; her longing for a physical relationship with the 43-year-old Henry, since she knows that she will be with him in her future. We see her growing recognition that her peers think her strange, wondering why she is not interested in boys of her own age.

However, the book has many comedic moments, since Henry can never take anything with him into the next world, not even his clothes. Usually he can name the date of his next trip, and Clare becomes used to arriving with clothes for him, but as the novel progresses there are more of the spontaneous shifts, where at any moment Henry finds himself sucked out of the present and thrown naked into another time and place.

The second Book: "A Drop Of Blood in a Bowl of Milk" begins with Henry and Clare's married life, which is marked by Henry's frequent absences and Clare's inevitable worries about him.

Audrey Niffenegger carefully explores the emotions of the couple, and it is interesting to the reader to observe the dynamics of their characters and relationship. The time travel element serves to highlight and sometimes resolve any cracks in the relationship. There is a point in the novel, for instance, where Clare is in her thirties, and Henry is 41. Their relationship is rather jaded, as Clare narrates,

"Henry's been gone for almost 24 hours now, and as usual I'm torn between thinking obsessively about when and where he might be and being pissed at him for not being here... I hear Henry whistling as he comes up the path through the garden, into the studio. He stomps the snow off his boots and shrugs off his coat. He's looking marvellous, really happy. My heart is racing and I take a wild guess: 'May 24, 1989?' 'Yes, oh yes,' Henry scoops me up, and swings me around. Now I'm laughing; we're both laughing."

The reason for this, mends the breach they are both feeling, and also serves to demonstrate to the reader a shift or dichotomy within any relationship, new or established, where one is feeling and experiencing different emotions from the other, at any one time.

This dichotomy then is the crux of the novel. One person's story is always going to be slightly different from another's, even when they are experiencing the same relationship.

The novel does have limitations. Its focus is really very narrow, even though the complexity of the time travel element does mean that the reader tends to give up on carefully following the chronology - the dates heading each chapter - and just go with the flow. But these two characters seem to be almost fanatically trying to have the conventional American dream of happy, "normal", domesticity, and in the end this begins to pall a little, to feel a little tired.

There is even an attempt in this middle section to give the fantasy element more validity, with the introduction of a new character, a Dr. Kendrick. With his assistance, Henry's involuntary time travel will later become known as "Chrono-Impairment". Sadly this plot development leads nowhere.

There is also a mysterious shooting accident in this part, plus a gruesome operation making Henry's ability to time travel very dangerous. Neither of these episodes I found terribly convincing. The accident seemed to be put in purely for the mystery element - to make the reader wonder at the reason for all the blood, to wonder if it was fatal - during a couple of time travel episodes. The unconnected medical operation merely seemed rather ludicrous.

The third Book: "A Treatise on Longing" is possibly the least satisfactory part of the novel.

Although with this final section the ending is inevitable, and meant to be poignant, it comes across as rather sentimental and maudlin. Throughout the novel the reader knows that Henry and Clare's lives are already mapped out, and the time of their deaths already written. This impinges on the fantasy element rather too much. In fact it smacks a little of a spiritual religiosity - and one without free will. However, this is a very ambitious project for a first novel, and for much of the novel it translates onto the page with skill, an authentic believability, and a fair amount of charm. If there had been no time travel element, this would be a romantic novel, perhaps with a psychological focus, or a simple family saga. The domestic details here are more enjoyable because they add the necessary realism to the fantasy. Even though the relationship element is predominant, the fascination with the time travel element tends to enhance what might otherwise be a mundane if romantic story. Some of it works, some does not; some is rather mawkish.

It is very possible that Audrey Niffenegger's best novel is yet to come. She has since written another novel, "Her Fearful Symmetry" and a balletic fable, for the Royal Opera House Ballet in London, in addition to her previous graphic novels. She is professor of creative writing at Columbia College, Chicago. It will be interesting to read the novel she is currently working on, "The Chinchilla Girl in Exile", and to see whether this novelist has grown in stature.

“I won't ever leave you, even though you're always leaving me.”

“I wanted someone to love who would stay: stay and be there, always.”

“Maybe I'm dreaming you. Maybe you're dreaming me; maybe we only exist in each other's dreams and every morning when we wake up we forget all about each other.”
Profile Image for Christy.
3,817 reviews32.4k followers
October 17, 2022
5 stars
“Don't you think 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?”

I’ve read this book so many times and it never gets old. One of my favorites! I love Henry and Clare’s epic story.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 51,862 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.