“Audrey Niffenegger’s dazzling debut is the story of Clare, a beautiful, strong-minded art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: his genetic clock randomly resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous and unpredictable, and lend a spectacular urgency to Clare and Henry’s unconventional love story. That their attempt to live normal lives together is threatened by something they can neither prevent nor control makes their story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.”
I have Christmas to thank for this wonderful book – it was the only book I was given!
I have read many mixed reviews on this book – some extremely bad ones with the writers claiming that they hate hate hate this book. Whilst I understand some of the negative points they outlined (for example the racially stereotyped characters or the superfluous amount of sex), most of the complaints I read seemed fussy and insubstantial and I for one liked the book. Quite a lot.
Having never read anything by Niffenegger prior to this I had no idea what to expect but I absolutely loved it. This beautifully crafted romance was built on a unique idea that worked perfectly with the characters. Dual narration is a feature I always enjoy as it often allows for dramatic irony, but Henry’s spontaneous time traveling in this book also created much suspense and foreshadowing as both myself and the characters were aware of some of the events that were going to happen towards the end of the book.
This insight into its own plot is a stoke of genius that I rarely come across in books. In most books/films where time traveling is a feature the traveler is incapable of entering his/her own timeline for fear of disrupting something (take Doctor Who for example). However, Henry frequently enters his own timeline so that sometimes there are two or more of him at any one moment in time! (something which leads to some comical moments).
Something I really enjoyed about the book was Henry’s relationship with his wife Clare. It was great to be able to watch each of their characters develop (although it was a little confusing at times as the book was by no means in chronological order) and it was interesting how they reacted to each other when they did not yet know who they were.
Something that always interests me about time traveling novels is the loops they create. For example, Henry in the future finds a doctor who, A, believes him and B, tries to cure him. When in real time he goes to meet him for the first time, to make the doctor believe him he gives him a piece of paper with the name, exact time and date of birth and the condition of his son who is due to be born, and tells him to ring him when his wife has given birth. Henry knows these details about the doctor as he’s met him and his son in the future. The thing that gets me is this; Henry tells the doctor that his son will be called Colin as he has already met him in the future, but would the doctor have called his son Colin if Henry had never told him to? There are all these confusing time loops and it’s like that age old question; which came first, the chicken or the egg?
But I digress, my ending judgement is that overall this is a captivating book, where I became emotionally invested in and rather attached to the characters. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone under 16, as there were some adult themes in this book.