Just when I think I'm never going to like another bestselling novel again, along comes something like Audrey Niffenegger's novel The Time Traveler's Wife.
I really, really, really liked The Time Traveler's Wife. I totally didn't expect to; it was a bestseller and a very popular book at the suburban library where I worked.* I'm not entirely sure why I did. But there you have it. I started it at the beginning of the weekend, and it felt like a mere blink of time when I finished it at the end of the weekend.** I even liked its cover, which for once, seemed made for the book, rather than a bit of phoned-in stock art.
Maybe I liked it because it was weird? The story is this: Henry is a time traveler, but he can't really control when or where he goes; as a consequence, he sometimes visits Clare, the woman he marries, when she is still a child; he often also visits earlier versions of himself, which are the really mind-bendy parts of the narrative. And that's it, really. (Well, there's more, but I don't want to give away any secrets.) I think what I loved is that, although this is a love story, is not really a sentimentalized love story. Henry can actually be quite the jerk sometimes, and Clare both accepts their decidedly strange life together and rails against it. Even when tragedy strikes (and it does, and you knew it was going to), Niffenegger, to her credit, doesn't try to spin it into any larger kind of life lesson (a la Mitch Albom), unless that lesson is "well, not much we can do about all this."*** Now that is a life lesson I can get behind.
I also knew there was some element of an older man (in his 30s) hanging out with a young girl who was going to become his wife, and I thought that might be weird, but it really wasn't. When I thought about it, I realized, yes, I wish I could go see Mr. CR in grade school, just out of curiosity, so that made that aspect of the book a little less weird. I know, I'm really selling it, aren't I? It's not as creepy as you think it might be!
So come on, read it. I'm dying to talk it over with someone.
*Yes, I'm one of those awful snobby people who don't often enjoy the books and authors everyone else loves.
**It's a surprisingly fast read, for not really having all that much of a driving plot, and for being a pretty thick book.
***"This" being life, generally, and Henry's time-traveling predicament, specifically.