Sunday, October 19, 2003

New Book:
I finished Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife late last week and was not sorry to return it to the library. Although its reviews have been glowing, I found it lacking in several respects though I did enjoy the story. After all, the plot is highly original and intriguing.

Henry has a genetic disorder that has caused him to travel backward and forward in time, mostly to key events in his life and in the life of his true love, Clare. Narrated in the first person from both Henry's and Clare's viewpoints, the reader gets a front-row seat to the hazards, heartaches, and delights that this travel affords. But it wreaks havoc on Henry's life and mars his union with Clare. Henry is frequently absent during the years of their marriage, and from the selection of events Niffenegger chooses to relate, the time travel prevents them from developing their relationship. The reader sees Henry hop backward and forward in time, but doesn't observe the ups and downs of their interpersonal relationship. Nor does Niffenegger develop Clare's character. I found her annoyingly accepting--placid almost--in the face of Henry's condition. Clare accepts everything like a saint. She is one-dimensional; she does not struggle ever. She is boring.

Niffenegger is skilled at creating memorable, evocative scenes, rich in sensory detail. For this element, the book was worth reading.


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