Monday, August 22, 2005

Enjoyable and unpredictable

The Time Traveler's Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger

This is hands-down, the best recently-written novel I have read.

Henry DeTamble is an adverturous librarian involuntarily and unpredictably travels through time. Clare Abshire is the artist he marries, who life is natural and sequential. This is the story of their life together across 72 years of Clare's life and 18 years of Henry's.

The book raises, without answering, several curious circularities caused by this time travel. Most notably, the first time Henry meets Clare, she is looking for him because she grew up with (older) time displaced Henry. The first time Clare meets Henry, he is already married to her and goes to see his wife's childhood. (He does not strictly control the time displacement, but he tends to visit times and places that are somehow important to him.) Niffenegger largely ignores this causal dillema, though the characters do spend some time considering time-displaced causation.

More interesting (and subtle) is a red herring, which I will not go into in detail, regarding Henry's death. Suffice it to say that a heavily forshadowed event does not go down as the reader is initially led to expect.

On the whole this is quite an enjoyable novel, and a rather unpredictable plot.

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