Friday, February 19, 2010

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Reviewed by Sherry Isaac

When Clare and Henry meet, Henry is captivated by the beautiful young woman so eager to have dinner with him. A first date is alive with possibility, mystery. For Clare, it is the chance to evolve at last into a ‘normal’ relationship with the man she has known and loved all her life.

Henry is a time traveller. For reasons unknown his older self travels repeatedly to the clearing on the land behind Clare’s childhood home. As past and present converge in their adult relationship, Henry finds a notebook in which Clare, age 5, recorded the dates Henry visited her. Since he has no control over his travel, fading away in the blink of an eye with no evidence of his existence other than the heap of clothing he leaves behind, this is a rare gift. He commits the dates to memory, and on his first encounter with Clare years later (when she is a child), asks her to write them down. Ms. Niffenegger deftly guides us through back and forth through the years, so it is no effort at all to remember that for Clare it is the past, yet for Henry it is his future.

No romance is perfect, marriage has its ups and downs, but few wives look up in mid-conversation to find their husband has vanished, either for a moment, days, or sometimes weeks at a time. This element raises the stakes in Clare and Henry’s story. Clare knows not where, or when, her husband is, and often neither does Henry, nor does he know if or when he will make it home alive. While Niffenegger weaves through time and space with precision and consistency make no mistake—The Time Traveller’s Wife is at its heart a love story.

As a lover of suspense there were a few times where, for me, the pace dragged and I was tempted to shout, “Oh come on Audrey, get on with it!” yet as a whole I enjoyed the voice and style of this rare romance. The mystery hound in me revelled in the twists of fate, the subtle plot points where past and present came together.
Sherry Isaac has been published in Quick Brown Fox, New Mystery Reader and Over My Dead Body. Her short story, "The Forgetting," placed first in the Alice Munro Contest in 2009. She is also co-host of Prana Presents, a venue featuring the work of Toronto’s hottest new authors and poets. Visit Sherry on the web at

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