I loved this book. It’s not perfect, but it made me feel and think and want. It’s one of those stories that pulls you into the characters’ lives and leaves you wanting more, mulling over the scenes and premise for days after you’ve reluctantly turned the last page. Rarely is such an original idea portrayed with such vivid language so you believe the time travel possibility and the characters are almost people you know.It’s about a guy who involuntarily travels time. He can never predict where or when he will jump the time/space continuum, but when he does, he is drawn toward significant events and people in his life. The science fiction is a medium for a love story, not a cheesy or unrealistic (besides time travel which she makes believable) one, but a deep enduring love in for the long haul of life and hardship, told from both his and her perspective, and how time travel affects their lives and relationship.It starts when Henry meets Claire for the first time and she is ecstatic to finally have found the love of her life in the present. Henry must get to know this stranger introduced to him as his future wife and Claire has to nurture him into the man she loves. As you relive scenes from Claire’s past and Henry’s future you see how they fall in love, at different times with someone already madly in love with them, and conquer the challenge of his disorder. Because their relationship is non-chronological, you discover events out of order–as do they–making the story interesting and leaving you with the same sense of longing the characters feel.
I thought the odd age difference, Henry playing father figure to the girl who will be his wife, was handled well instead of pedophileish, as was the delve into both Henry’s and Claire’s minds and emotions (although I wish their voices differed more) to get a better grasp of how this condition would affect normal life. I really cared about these characters. Henry trying to protect Claire and Claire left wanting. In one scene she is racing to meet him after a prolonged absence and he fades before she can reach him. I felt for her, what she had to sacrifice to revolve and dedicate her life to him. Some of the minor characters strange and distracting, but overall the story is powerful and vivid.
One is left to question the origin of fate and ethics. Does the past affect the future or the future the past? Or is it all predestined? Claire knows what dates Henry will visit because he gives her the dates he memorized from her diary and told her to write down so he could later memorize them. Where did the knowledge originate? How would you explain and hide abnormalities? What would you consider ethical in playing with time? I didn’t have a problem with the thievery (he transfers nude) but I did with using money knowledge from the future. There is a lot left to contemplate.
Be forewarned, there’s a lot of loving in the story, and not just the act, but the dirty reference to the deed as well. I think Niffenegger must have wanted to steer clear of being too cheesy so she regrettably went too far the other direction. Many of the sex scenes are graphically portrayed, but there is one scene, only hinted at, the idea of which almost made me close the book. Gratefully the concept didn’t linger, but unfortunately the language did. Gratuitous and unnecessary for the story, oh but what a story.
-Ana @ SoManyBooksSoLittleTime