TTW is a much abridged and largely sanitised version of the novel. Henry is a librarian with a genetic disease that causes him to travel through time. He meets Claire when she’s really young and he’s already married to Future Claire. The time travelling concept is intriguing, but the acting isn’t great, and many exciting (and slightly risqué) aspects of the novel are completely removed. The novel’s Henry is more awesome and Claire less annoying, but the pacing of the film means all that (and the author’s many references to other novels and German poetry) is lost. Read the book.
Tag Archives: Time Traveler's Wife
I can’t describe the deep, deep pleasure I take from the fact that Eric Bana has gone from playing a time-travelling alien in Star Trek to a time-travelling librarian in The Time Traveller’s Wife. It’s those sort of neat parallels that provide a lot of joy in my life. Here’s a snippet of the book before the movie (which I hear is rubbish) gets released (here in SA):
“I bet I can guess your favourite bird.”
He shakes his head and smiles.
“What’ll you bet?”
He looks down at himself in his T-Rex shirt and shrugs. I know the feeling.
“How about this: if I guess you get to eat a cookie, and if I can’t guess you get to eat a cookie?”
He thinks it over and decides this would be a safe bet. I open the book to Flamingo. Henry laughs.
“Am I right?”
It’s easy to be omniscient when you’ve done it all before. “Okay, here’s your cookie. And I get one for being right. But we have to save them ‘til we’ve done looking at the book; we wouldn’t want to get crumbs all over the bluebirds, right?”
“Right!” He sets the Oreo on the arm of the chair and we begin again at the beginning and page slowly through the birds, so much more alive than the real thing in glass tubes down the hall.
“Here’s a Great Blue Heron. He’s really big, bigger than a Flamingo. Have you ever seen a hummingbird?”
“I saw some today!”
“Here in the museum?”
“Wait ‘til you see one outside – they’re like tiny helicopters, their wings go so fast you just see a blur…” Turning each page is like making a bed, an enormous expanse of paper slowly rises up and over. Henry stands attentively, waits each time for the new wonder, emits small noises of pleasure for each Sandhill Crane, American Coot, Great Auk, Pileated Woodpecker. When we come to the last plate, Snow Bunting, he leans down and touches the page, delicately stroking the engraving. I look at him, look at the book, remember, this book, this moment, the first book I loved, remember wanting to crawl into it and sleep.
“Should we go?”
The Time Traveler’s Wife is a Science Fiction novel: it’s about a guy who has a genetic disorder which causes him to periodically jump around through time. This basic premise is sure to be a little off-putting to those to whom science fiction leaves a bitter aftertaste. The Time Traveler’s Wife is a love story: it’s about the love between two people despite circumstances that continually pull them apart. This basic premise is sure to be a little off-putting to those for whom love stories don’t have enough lasers. And so TTW is stuck between two seemingly irreconcilable ideas. It’s not a split straight done the middle: If pushed to make a choice, TTW would plop itself down on the romance side of things.
Henry the Librarian has the aforementioned rare genetic disease which causes him to occasionally be jolted through time. He’s largely confined to his own lifetime, so there are no battles with rampant Assyrians and no lasers. Clare is a young lady who since childhood has been visited by a strange man who claims to come from the future. I’m sure you’re seeing where this is going.
At its heart TTW is story of love and separation; what it means to be pulled from the one you love against your will; what it means to love and most of all, what it means to wait. The novel is initially disconcerting as the chapters jump through time as randomly as Henry does, focusing on moments Kate and Henry’s life together in no particular order. This continues for two thirds of the novel forcing the reader to experience the protagonist’s love life in as disjointed a fashion as they did. Pretty clever, huh?
There did come a point where I was acquainted with the characters and their situations and diligently sat around waiting for something to happen. This sad state of affairs continued for a chapter or two, before the novel kicks into overdrive. The final third of the book is ushered in with a phone call from the future and hops from set-piece to set-piece with some truly shocking scenes leading up to a satisfying dénouement (good word, huh?)
If I was a time-traveling, hard drinking librarian I’d sure try to do a lot more interesting things with the nature of the space-time continuum than Henry does, but the space-time continuum is not what this novel is about. It’s about love and loss and longing, about being separated from the one you love. TTW certainly delivers in that regard.
PG-Warning – Some of the sex scenes are kind of rough. I don’t know how rough because I skipped them. Just thought you’d like to know.
UPDATE: The Movie is coming. Eric Bana (Hulk, Hector and that villian from the new Star Trek movie I still have to see) and Rachel McAdams (The Notebook and um, Redeye, I guess) are kicking it as Clare and Henry at the end of 2009.
The Time Traveler’s Wife is Number 24 on the Exclusive Books 101 Books to Read Before You Die List.
A short side note on what I like and what I don’t like about time travel. This is very science-fiction-y; skip it if you’re not into that stuff
My preference is for a “solid all the way through” universe, where it is impossible to change anything. Anything you do in the past will end up having been there all the time. That’s why it’s called the past. This view fits my basically fatalistic world-view; nothing you do can affect anything or and no-one’s grandfather gets killed<p style=”text-
Second best is a many universes approach where each journey in time creates a new universe where events. The future you came from is either a) utterly obliterated or b) unaffected; existing alongside the current time line.
TTW adopts the first approach. For this I am grateful. I’m grateful because these are the only two postulates that make sense. The only two. Anything else is wrong. There are a myriad of paradoxes and inconsistencies that occur if anything else is possible. I’m looking at you Heroes. And Back to the Future. And Meet the Robinsons. And The Sarah Connor Chronicles. (Maybe Lost will do it right. Faraday!)