The Time Traveler's Wife

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by Audrey Niffenegger | Science Fiction & Fantasy |
ISBN: 1931561648 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 6/27/2018
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Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Wednesday, June 27, 2018
I found this good-condition hardcover in this Little Free Library in Pepperell MA while dropping off some books of my own, and was happy to have another release copy.

I loved the story; it's sad and intriguing, funny and scary, romantic and heartbreaking - what more is there? I found myself wanting to make a flowchart to check the author's chronology (what can I say, I'm a geek) but found that the book was quite comprehensible without bothering to check up on the details - though if you pay attention to those details you'll get wonderful frissons here and there.

Possible spoilers follow:

As it happens, I've read quite a few other time-travel books, and found the contrast with this one interesting. The author's model - in which the traveler can appear in his own past or future, communicating with his younger or older selves - fits with that of David Gerrold in The Man Who Folded Himself, although in the latter book the time traveler had much more control over his jumps (and there was also the little matter of alternate timestreams that could basically be erased). Some of Gerrold's character's reactions to meeting himself were echoed nicely in Niffenegger's book, and some of the psychological stresses on living that way also sounded familiar, but Gerrold's character had nobody in his life except for himself, so his story lacked the same level of romance and tragedy that this book has. Then there was du Maurier's House on the Strand, in which there was no physical time travel at all, merely a kind of window on the past; here the protagonist could not meet himself, could not choose where or when to visit, and could not alter or affect anything - dramatically different from the models of the other two books.

Among the nicer touches in Time Traveler's Wife: I loved it when Clare is first checking out Henry's bookshelves - the classic booklovers' way of scoping each other. The range of titles tickled (and impressed) me, as they included Tristram Shandy and Wisconsin Death Trip, along with a book about "frostbite injuries" - all titles that appear on my own shelves. [Later in the story I realized that the frostbite book had practical significance to Henry; I don't know whether he appreciated Shandy for its digressions, as he lived in a constant state of digression himself, or if he read Wisconsin Death Trip in hopes of finding evidence of an earlier time traveler among the bits of bizarre news items there...]

In the "Lessons in Survival" chapter, when Henry is teaching his younger self useful skills such as "picking locks, climbing trees, dumpster diving", it sounded to me almost like a D&D character class: "1st level time traveler"? That whole bit did present the chicken/egg argument; if Henry taught himself to survive so he could grow up to teach himself to survive - well, it's a closed loop, right? Very confusing, that. [The Gerrold book had a similar problem, although it also attempted an explanation, via the alternate timestreams; whether that makes any more sense than the unexplained Henry-and-Clare situation I don't know. Time travel is a mind-bender any way you look at it. {grin}]

Recommended.

[I found the 2009 film version rather disappointing, in part because the casting didn't work for me. There's some discussion of it in the Based on the Book forum. I did find the TV Tropes page quite entertaining!]

Released 1 yr ago (6/27/2018 UTC) at Little Free Library, Heritage Rail Trail in Nashua, New Hampshire USA

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

I left this book in the Little Free Library; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in NH here.]

*** Released for the 2018 June Brides release challenge. ***

*** Released for the 2018 Movie release challenge. ***

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