This is an extraordinary novel with a unique premise, an exploration of the unknown in this expanding century, where the impossible becomes possible, if not routine. In the vast prism of the universe, there is much that remains to be discovered. Who can know the secrets of the future?
For the most part, The Time Traveler's Wife is a lyrical love story between Henry and Clare, albeit an unusual one suffused with vivid images of the past and the future. Henry has a rare genetic condition: he time-travels within his own lifetime, into his own past and future, yet dwells in the present. Henry and Clare develop a bond that transcends time and logic, bound to memory and promise. Since Henry's traveling is involuntary, they learn to deal with life's ambiguity in a deeper sense than most couples. Within this strange constraint, Clare's affection assumes a mystical tone and she accepts their situation unconditionally, year after year committing her heart into Henry's keeping.
Henry's mother, a professional singer, died in a car accident when he was six years old. Now he has only her recordings and a few faded photographs. After her death, Henry's concert violinist father slowly drifts away into his own world. Unable to live without his beloved wife, he exists in the miasma of an alcoholic haze, unavailable to his son. When Henry finds Clare, he is profoundly aware of Clare's importance in his life.
Audrey Niffenegger has not written a traditional romance made a bit more curious by Henry's penchant for time travel. Instead Niffenegger has grounded her tale in flesh and blood reality. Henry and Clare's lifelong love affair does not come without a cost, for nothing worth having is easily won. The powerful emotional ending of this novel contains its share of shattering revelations, brutal slashes of real life and its consequences. Niffenegger compassionately develops her unique characters with the grace to accept their difficult circumstances as well as their blessings. Don't be deceived by the easy charm of Henry and Clare's relationship; they will draw you into their small circle, make you complicit with their dreams and disappointments. They will break your heart.