[AB] The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
January 29, 2010 § 21 Comments
I have a confession to make: this is my first audiobook.
A little more than 12 hours after I started listening, I think I’m glad I chose the audio version of this book.
Henry is a time traveler. But not in the jump-into-machine-and-press-buttons-and-away-we-go kind of time traveling. In fact, Henry doesn’t get any say at all on when he time travels, where to, when to, and for how long. What happens to him, is he simply disappears from the here and now, appears in some other time and place, stark naked, and then disappears from there again to reemerge from whence he came from, give or take minutes, hours or days.
If my explanation of the premise is not that easy to understand, it’s partly because I’m no good with explanations. And also because, I think, the way Henry actually time travels is not entirely revealed until a little later on. His whole life is like an adventure. He keeps appearing as a 35-year-old, a 43-year-old, a 31-year-old, in a time and place where he is supposed to be 6, or 13 or 25.
It is through Henry’s time travelling that Claire, a young girl of 6, gets to know her future husband, a Henry who has travelled from the future. An old man (in Claire’s eyes) tells her that he is now, in his own time, her husband. How does a young child comprehend that?
That is only the first of many a-rendezvous they will have; Claire grows older like how all of us do, but the Henry she meets isn’t always the same, always coming from a different time. And that’s just the beginning. Things start to get a little nerve-wrecking for Claire when she finally meets Henry in the here and now, because instead of Henry appearing at random intervals, he is now gone at random times, time traveling to the past.
After finishing the book, I was left thinking that the title could not have been better named. Because although half the story is told from Henry’s perspective, I felt that the real heart of the story perhaps belonged to Claire. Since the first time she met Henry, she has been made to wait. She waits for his next appearance, but not knowing how old he is going to be when that happens. She waits to meet him in the present. Then she waits as Henry disappears, sometimes for long spells, waiting for him to reappear in the present, worried that he might have gotten into some kind of trouble while in that other time and place.
It’s the kind of waiting that would drive a person mad. Mad with worry and frustration.
I have another confession: I chose to listen to the audiobook, because the wait at the library for the physical book was simply way too long for me. But in the end, I think it turned out for the better.
You see, as I was listening to the book, I couldn’t help but feel that my experience was made just that much better because the readers were really good. I felt the story did drone on for a tad too long, and I don’t think I would have appreciated the writing style much. But the reading was done very well. The audiobook bumped my rating up by a point, at least.
For: Orange Prize Project
Note: I listened to the audiobook produced by HighBridge Company, the unabridged version, read by Christopher Burns and Maggi-Meg Reed.
Postscript: I have just realised that Claire is not Claire, but Clare. Hah.