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Book Review of The Time Traveler's Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife
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I saw this book on many lists over the years since it was printed, but I wasn't particularly interested in reading it. At first I mixed it up with The Mapmaker's Wife, a book I very much liked. When I realized my mistake I was still in no hurry to read it. But when it recently became available on paperbackswap I figured why not. I have so many credits there.

It's heavy. 536 pages. I don't mind heavy books, especially if I am absorbed in it. It can be a real pleasure to live within the pages of a book for more than a day or so. In this case that did not happen.

The story is told through the words of Henry DeTamble and Clare Abshire. Henry has an unusual condition: he travels through time. He has no control over when he will suddenly be ripped from one time to another, or when he will return. Nothing he wears or that is not a part of him travels with him, so he always lands at his destination in the nude.

And so it is that he is found by six-year-old Clare, in the woods near her home. She is young and therefore more willing to accept his story than adults would be. The two become friends over the years, as he pops in on her from different ages, randomly. The two become attached, but Henry is careful not to take advantage of her. Even so, he recognizes that she is at something of a disadvantage in this relationship.

Still, the two know they are meant for each other and they do eventually marry. Henry, who works as a librarian, continues to disappear and reappear and sometimes even meets himself at another age. His condition puts him at a disadvantage in several ways even as it provides the occasional advantage.

Henry and Clare, alternating, in short blurbs, describe what is happening, each section a different day and instance of time travel, except when they are both in the present. Thus we are swinging back and forth with them, which can be dizzying. I expect this method of presenting the story is meant to help us feel what it is like for the two of them.

It's an interesting premise and suggests many different scenarios. I felt many were included here, maybe more than necessary. I wanted the best for the pair yet never really grew to care that much about them. There were interesting moments, particularly when Henry had to engage in some criminal activity just to get some clothes on or some food in his stomach, and his sanguinity in the face of this is curious. Does he never worry about getting caught? Apparently not. For me, in any case, there was not enough to engage my interest through the whole drawn-out story, and toward the end I was impatient for it to be done.