Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Time Traveler's Wife

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Rating: 3 Stars

Henry DeTamble, the hero of Audrey Niffenegger’s novel, has a curious disorder that he shares with several other heroes of fantasy fiction - he has a tendency to zigzag between Past, Present, and Future. But the author, who has a nifty knack for words, has inventively come up with a scientific label for his condition – he’s a CDP (Chrono Displaced Person).

But the science(fiction)-averse reader has nothing to fear. We’re not going to be bogged down by terminology here. This is first and foremost a romance. Our hero, by profession is a librarian, a multilingual scholar, lover of books, and dishy-looking, to boot. Traffic in the local libraries would increase considerably, if we had more like him.

Henry’s not a very good boy though; he’s also a larcenous, hard-drinking womanizer, given to the use of recreational drugs. But all he needs is the love of a good woman to make over his life, and Clare Abshire happens to fit the bill. She’s spent most of her life grooming herself for the job, since she was 6 and Henry was 36, and since she was 13 and he was 35, and since she was 16 and he was 32, and since…whatever.

Niffenegger puts her own spin on an oft-told theme, and livens it with her painterly prose. Her writing skills are superb. Her few flaws include rambling filler-like conversation, a tendency to bloviate on her pet topics, and rather naive interpolation of ethnic stereotypes. I found the book reminiscent of Danielle Steele’s style – beautiful people lisping French and German, wallowing in art and culture, and living with an insouciant disregard of financial constraints. I probably shouldn’t carp on that – the world of romantic fiction makes no allowance for petty concerns like high mortgage, or low libido. The hero and heroine are required to have interesting problems. They don’t fail us there.

Ultimately, I enjoyed this book, because the love that’s talked about is the real thing; it endures. Past, Present, or Future – it doesn’t matter, as long as you’re with the love of your life. Recommendation? Three hankies /a box of Kleenex.

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