So The Time Traveler’s Wife may be the greatest, most beautiful novel in existence! Yes, I’m aware that I’ve already said this about Jane Eyre a number of times, as well as about one of my other favourite novels Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens. And, it’s still absolutely true about these novels – I stand by my statements. JE and OMF are, of course, 19th century Victorian novels though, and if I consider our contemporary catalogue of romance novels, I would say that The Time Traveler’s Wife is a modern classic and one of the best stories created in recent years!
We already know that I absolutely worship the characters. I mean, I’m pretty sure my crush on Henry DeTamble is as strong as ever, and I spend a lot of time thinking and daydreaming about him – sorry SS! 😉 My respect for Clare Abshire DeTamble is quite limitless as well, and she is definitely sitting right beside Jane Eyre in my heart, in the room labeled “Strong, Inspiring Female Heroines”.
But, what I haven’t spoken too much about other than a mention in my post two weeks ago, is Niffenegger’s brilliant writing style and her ability to capture Henry and Clare so thoroughly. She not only creates them as characters, she truly makes them into humans, into beings with distinct characteristics that leap out of the page. The novel is not always about WHAT happens to Henry and Clare – in fact, for many sections, nothing eventful happens to them at all – it is often simply about WHO Henry and Clare are as people. Yes, tons of exciting and terrifying things occur in their lives and they are forced to deal with them; but we are also privileged enough to watch Henry and Clare in some of their quieter moments, sitting at home cooking, taking a road trip to Clare’s home in Michigan, lying in the meadow speaking about nothing in particular. It’s at these times that Henry and Clare really take shape and become the lovable couple that contemporary readers are oh so fond of, and rather than the plot feeling likes it’s shuttling toward some epic conclusion (which it still very much is), it feels like a leisurely stroll with two very good friends through the forest that is their lives together. I absolutely love that Niffenegger dedicated such time to describing the little mundane scenes of everyday life, and this is a book that looks long and heavy, but that is a true pleasure and joy to read and delve into.
And that is one of the best parts of the novel: it is looong. Not ridiculously, “Oh my goodness I have to finish this for a class in a week and I’m going to go crazy” long, but just long enough to feel as though there is a distinct world within it. It’s just over 500 pages, and every single line is so wonderfully articulated that it doesn’t feel like a burden to crack open (or to carry to and from work every day)!
500 pages or so is an amazing thing to behold when you’re on page 20 and you’re in love with the story and the characters already and you are looking at maybe another week or more of reading and you are just absolutely content with the fact that there are so many pages left to go. But, when you’ve reached the point I’m at now, which is about 480 pages in, panic sets in. I’m going to finish The Time Traveler’s Wife for the third time very soon…and then what?! I truly have no idea! Obviously I’m going to write a post at that point, but I know what’s going to happen: I’m going to be thinking about the book for a few days, maybe a week after finishing, I’m going to struggle to get Henry and Clare out of my mind, and I’m going to go crazy trying to find another book to make me feel this way. The truth is, I just don’t feel like I will ever have enough time with this book because it will (as all written texts do) eventually end.
So, for now, I guess I just have to take the approach that Clare and Henry take and live in the moment, sit in the sunshine and enjoy the last few hours I have with them, and try my hardest not to rush the here and now or be afraid of the future.
“‘To happiness. To here and now.’” – Clare
“‘To world enough and time.’” – Henry
The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
Girl with a Green Heart