Sunday, August 16, 2009
A Wrinkle in Time
Audrey Niffenegeger’s debut novel “The Time Traveler’s Wife” is now a number one best seller and a movie based on the book will come out this week. I usually will try to read the book before I see the movie but I was somewhat dubious when I purchased this rather large book. After reading this 537 page book in a very short time I am happy to say that this is a wonderful first novel by a skillful and innovative writer.
The "Time Traveler’s Wife" is a story about a man who is an involuntary Time Traveler. This is a complicated phenomenon which the author has carefully structured so that the reader can follow and understand, for the most part, what it can mean to travel in time. The main characters are Henry DeTamble and Clare Abshire. They first meet in 1977 in the meadow behind Clare’s house when she is six and Henry is thirty eight. Henry continues to visit Clare in the meadow as she is growing up and he is time traveling. She is fascinated by Henry and feels that she is completely connected to him. But they don’t meet in real time until 1991 when Clare is twenty and Henry is twenty eight. Henry doesn’t recognize Clare because he was thirty eight when he first met her in the meadow. Confusing? Not really, because the author skillfully begins each chapter with the exact date and the corresponding ages of Henry and Clare to orient the reader. Each chapter is written in the first person narrative using both Henry and Clare’s perspectives.
Time Travel is a very interesting concept and it makes for an exciting, suspense filled story. As Clare and Henry fall in love and attempt to have a “normal life” Henry’s travels can be both amusing and frightening. He will disappear without warning, leaving his clothes behind. Then he will arrive in a past or future time naked and not sure where he is, which can be funny but also troublesome and dangerous. But the author never lets the plot get too convoluted.
In an attempt to make their lives more normal Henry goes to a doctor to cure him of his chrono-displacement. There is an very interesting medical component but this is ultimately a love story based on unconditional love and trust that spans a lifetime. Audrey Niffenegger has written an imaginative, poignant story that I did not want to put down or to end. The characters are real, passionate and believable. This is a book I highly recommend and I hope will translate to a great movie.