If you could defy time and visit snippets of your past and future as your current self, would you? It’s not exactly a choice for Henry DeTamble, the protagonist of The Time Traveler’s Wife.
Henry’s genetic condition makes him vanish involuntarily from the present, and lands him into his past or future, unaware, in only his birthday suit. His time-travel episodes are filled with adventure, lies and heartache, because even though he can defy time, he can’t change it.
Henry DeTamble: “How does it feel?
I feels exactly like one of those dreams in which you suddenly realize that you have to take a test you haven’t studied for and you aren’t wearing any clothes. And you’ve left your wallet at home.
When I am out there, in time, I am inverted, changed into a desperate version of myself. I become a thief, a vagrant, an animal who runs and hides. I startle old women and amaze children. I am a trick, an illusion of the highest order, so incredible that I am actually true.”
Though a far-fetched fantasy, Audrey Niffeneger, the author, has painted extremely realistic, believable characters, and the book makes a light, pacy read. Through the pages, the characters become so interwoven with the reader, so life-like, that it’s hard to disentangle and let the story take its disturbing course.
More than science fiction, the book is really the story of two soulmates, Henry and Clare, who find and lose each other ever so often, in keeping with Henry’s time travel. At 36, Henry first meets Clare in the past, when she is only 6, and paints her entire life. Then begins a love story which could easily be equated with the eternal characters of Erich Segal’s Love Story and Tarun Tejpal’s The Alchemy of Desire.
“Time passes and the pain begins to roll in and out as though it’s a woman standing at an ironing board, passing the iron back and forth, back and forth across a white tablecloth.”
A delectable book throught each of its 518 pages, for the hopeless romantics, for the believers in soul mates, and mostly, for everyone willing to flex their imagination just a little wild.