The time traveler’s wife (Audrey Niffenegger, 2003)


The time traveler’s wife, by Audrey Niffenegger (2003).

Score: Downright creepy.

The time traveler’s wife tells the story of Henry and Clare. Henry is chronodisplaced, meaning that he travels in time randomly, and Clare isn’t. Clare has known Henry her whole life, because he visited her as a child when he was an adult, and knows she ends up marrying him. When they finally meet in the present, romance ensues, and when they try to have children, shit hits the fan.

Mixed feelings about this book. The first half is entertaining, but the second half I found creepy and revolting. The timeline building is clever and all, I just feel it would be a better book if not absolutely every point of the plot revolved around Henry and Clare’s romance. Well, there are the parts about Henry’s mother and the rest of their families, to a degree, but they still don’t change the fact that the book is basically about these two being in love forever and ever, until they smother each other. The first half abuses the formula of Clare being redemption for poor tortured Henry, who didn’t know joy until he met her, and sometimes it all gets so sappy. And Clare is such a Mary Sue. They don’t even fight, like any normal couple! She just takes everything that happens without complaining, bless her.

***SPOILERS*** And then in the second half Clare transforms into a creepy, selfish, obsessed monster. Personally I don’t like kids and I don’t see why anyone would like to get themselves a sticky, noisy, stinky meatball that will grow up into an ungrateful brat, but I think that even for people who love kids Clare’s chapters are excessive and disgusting. Seriously, they read like pro-life propaganda. I can only be happy if I have a biological child! It’s my destiny! Adopting a kid is pretending! I don’t care what my husband thinks about this, I must have what I want! And the poor guy is such a coward that he daren’t contradict her. And of top of that her psychotic behaviour is rewarded by the author by letting her get away with everything. Not that it gets much better when she finally has what she wants. The descriptions of the delivery, her feelings about motherhood and especially the descriptions of Alba when she’s a baby are the sappiest, corniest and most ridiculous thing I’ve read in a long time. And when poor Henry kicks the bucket untimely she’s so needy, clingy and obsessed that she can’t even function anymore and stops making art. And she is jealous of her own daughter because she gets to see him more than Clare does. Honestly. A very mature portrait of what love between two adults must look like.

My theory? Henry and Alba are chronodisplaced because they can’t put up with such a cunt an awful woman.

And let’s not forget we’re talking time-travelling fetuses. I read a lot of science-fiction and I regularly nod approval at the most ludicrous plot elements and this was just too much. Time-travelling fetuses, for fuck’s sake. Not to say Clare must have a womb that’s made of adamantium, she survived six miscarriages like they were the flu or something, and it’s surprising that nobody, no doctor, no friend, nobody but Henry told her that to keep trying to have a baby was a risk to her health. Go figure.

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