Angel’s Adjectives: thought-provoking and memorable
The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger’s first novel, continued to occupy my mind long after I cried the last tear and laughed the last laugh for Henry and Clare. Many wonderful elements came together to create such an unforgettable story, but for me, it wasn’t the believable and likable characters. It wasn’t the personal tragedies I lived through with them, so humanly conceived. No, it was the implication of uncontrollable time travel that hooked me deep.
My mind would not stop chewing on what it would be like to be suddenly popped, naked, to a different time and place. What an evocative challenge to give a character! Add to that the possible repercussions of talking to yourself or your future loved ones. Then multiply that by a few trips into your own future, children who die in the womb because they’ve inherited the same disability, and the question of whether one can change one’s destiny or not.
Now that’s some meaty brain food, and it fascinated me to see how the author handled it.
Throughout this story, you’re never given the impression that either character has any say whatsoever in what happens to them. Time and again, they are victims of fate, of chaos, or of plain ol’ bad luck, whichever you prefer. No matter what, they do not choose their futures nor their pasts, and that makes it almost tragic. And yet, they live and love and laugh. They never give up. They keep going through terrible hardship, right to the very ends of their lives, and beyond.
I found this evoked feelings of deep sadness in me, and then I found myself pushing that sadness aside for hope and love. I, like Henry and Clare, didn’t bother long with the disappointing thought that no one comes to a happy end. I just read on, kept living, laughing, and loving with them.
Description of the plot from Wikipedia:
It is a love story about a man with a genetic disorder that causes him to time travel unpredictably, and about his wife, an artist, who has to cope with his frequent absences and dangerous experiences. Niffenegger, frustrated in love when she began the work, wrote the story as a metaphor for her failed relationships. The tale’s central relationship came to her suddenly and subsequently supplied the novel’s title. The novel, which has been classified as both science fiction and romance, examines issues of love, loss, and free will. In particular, it uses time travel to explore miscommunication and distance in relationships, while also investigating deeper existential questions.
As an aside, it says on Wikipedia that Ms. Niffenegger was rejected by 25 agents with this book before she finally found a publisher to publish it. Facing my own agent search, I’m both encouraged and discouraged by this. I really hope it won’t take 25 agents before I find someone who likes my novel, and yet, if it does take that many, then I’m in good company.