“The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger reminds of a fiction though, in fact, it is more of a love story. It is humorous to some extent, which does not “allow the action to become sentimental or clichéd” (Sinclair 39). Henry, one of the main characters, travels in time facing the most unpredictable problems. Two lovers, Henry and Clare throughout the story meet in different times; however, the author succeeds in keeping the timelines in order by means of marking each section of the book with Henry’s and Clare’s ages and dates when events take place. Moreover, Clare’s life is organized in an ordinary way whereas it is Henry who is travelling back and force in time.
What’s more, Clare’s life is influenced by Henry’s travels in time. She accepts his journeys because she loves him, though she admits that she misses him and often fears for his life: “Now every absence is a nonevent, a subtraction, an adventure I will hear about when my adventurer materializes at my feet, bleeding or whistling, smiling or shaking. Now I am afraid when he is gone” (Niffenegger 275).
It is also interesting that the author makes Henry’s travels in time realistic. Thus, Henry travels in time not owing to time machines, portals or magic devices but because of a genetic disease called Chrono-Displacement Disorder. This convinces the reader that the book has nothing to do with magic and ensures its realistic perception.
Furthermore, Henry’s life is often disrupted by unexpected disappearances and, though they are tiresome and often dangerous, he likes them because he has a possibility to see Clare and to watch her growing. Also, he can live through the events several times, and he often knows what will happen to his friends in future.
Since Clare fell in love with Henry when she was a kid and he was an adult, it was easy for her to cope with the idea that she would marry him some day. Moreover, when being a young girl, she was constantly waiting when she would meet him in real time. It can be stated that she was prepared for this marriage from her very childhood.
The problems in Henry and Clare’s relationship were different from what a regularly couple experiences. They were strongly influenced by Henry’s disappearances and by the fact that Clare never knew when Henry would come back. The inability to see each other and to be with each other when they wanted was what distinguished them from ordinary young people in love: “Sometimes he disappears unobtrusively; I might be walking from the kitchen into the hall and find a pile of clothing on the floor” (Niffenegger 275).
Clare’s irrepressible desire was to have a baby, though due to the circumstances, she did not manage to get pregnant for some time. The couple suffered from this painfully though it never affected their feelings or stability of their relations. However, later Clare did give birth to a child; Alba, their daughter inherited her father’s disease and could also travel in time.
Both of the characters, Henry and Clare, are the narrators of the story and this helps the reader observe all the events and to be aware of what is happening with Clare when Henry is absent. It also adds emotional coloring to the book because the characters express their feelings and emotions directly.
At the end of the story two people who are in love and whose relationships endured so much are reunited; for this story such an ending is more than satisfactory.
And finally, literature knows a number of mediums used for traveling in time. Never has it been genetic disease like Henry had. In Well’s “Time Machine” an inventor “discovers a way to travel in time, using a mysterious machine assembled in a small private shop” (Wells, Bear vii), whereas in “Shoeless Joe & Me: A Baseball Card Adventure” by Gutman the main character traveled in time by means of baseball cards: “The difference is that I don’t have any time machine. I do it with baseball cards” (Gutman 1).
In conclusion, the book “The Time Traveler’s Wife” differs from the other stories about travelling in time by the uniqueness of Henry’s disease and by combining fiction, romance and reality.
Niffenegger, A. The Time Traveler’s Wife: A Novel. MacAdam/Cage, 2003.
Sinclair, F. Fantasy Fiction. School Library Association Wells, H.G., Bear, G. The Time Machine. Signet Classic, 2002.
Gutman, D. Shoeless Joe & Me: A Baseball Card Adventure. HarperCollins, 2003.