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THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Discussion Thread

 
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THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Discussi... - 26/9/2009 2:29:57 PM   
homersimpson_esq


Posts: 20116
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Springfield


Although this is up for discussion in October, I see no reason why those who have read it already shouldn't discuss it here as well.

What I will say here is that this thread is for discussion of the book in its entirety so spoilers will be present. Of course, courtesy suggests that you do at least put fair warning, but spoilers are generally going to be the case, rather than the exception.

< Message edited by homersimpson_esq -- 26/9/2009 2:33:12 PM >


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RE: THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Disc... - 26/9/2009 2:46:31 PM   
Rhubarb


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From: No Direction Home
I think its one of the best books of recent times. Elegant, funny, romantic, and makes such inventive use of its narrative device.

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RE: THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Disc... - 27/9/2009 8:13:28 PM   
Hardcore Raver

 

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Hmmm, I got bored about halfway through this and gave up on it. I'll probably go back to it at some point, but not in the near future.

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RE: THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Disc... - 27/9/2009 10:43:29 PM   
The Hooded Man


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Joined: 12/7/2006
good story badly written

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RE: THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Disc... - 28/9/2009 10:59:36 AM   
HIM


Posts: 9734
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Star Trekkin', across the universe
Hardcore Raver, it does pick up again towards the end. I got bored around the halfway point as well, when Niffenegger introduced the miscarriage subplot, but once past this point I started to enjoy it again. I also agree with Hood Man in that the premise is one of the most original in a long while and although Niffenegger handles the time travel elements well in the beginning, I think towards the middle it starts to become a burden to her until the climax. I wish there was more story dedicated to the time travel aspects though such as causality, fate, paradoxes, theology etc... and a maybe a little less on the Henry/Claire relationship. I get that it's a love story first and foremost, an alegory for Niffenegger's failed relationships second and then a sci-fi novel but I still wished that that aspect was expanded upon more.

In terms of the characters I really loved Henry and Alba but I couldn't really warm to Claire in the same way. I didn't dislike her, I just didn't feel as much of a connection with her as I did Henry. I also hated Gomez and actually prefer the way he was portrayed in the film adaptation. We're told that he's Henry's best friend and best man at his wedding, yet they're relationship as friends is never really shown.

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RE: THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Disc... - 3/10/2009 6:51:59 PM   
homersimpson_esq


Posts: 20116
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Springfield
Just finished it, and I've got to admit, I was really taken aback by how much I loved it. I'll do a detailed review of it at some point, but it's all a bit raw at the moment to think of some coherent comments to make.

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RE: THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Disc... - 3/10/2009 10:22:54 PM   
Rhubarb


Posts: 24507
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: No Direction Home

quote:

ORIGINAL: HIM

Hardcore Raver, it does pick up again towards the end. I got bored around the halfway point as well, when Niffenegger introduced the miscarriage subplot,


This is true actually, much as I loved the book, the first time through the whole miscarriage bit was a tiny bit of a chore. But it doesn't last that long, and once you know where its going its alright.

Glad you enjoyed Homer, I always worry when i recommend something to someone.

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quote:

ORIGINAL: FritzlFan

You organisational skills sicken me, Rhubarb.



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RE: THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Disc... - 4/10/2009 8:06:08 AM   
homersimpson_esq


Posts: 20116
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Springfield
Interestingly I now want to read AS Byatt's Possession, because it was quoted so much (...at least twice) in TTTW.

After S5 tho, natch..

A couple of SPOILERSPOILERSPOILERSPOILER points...

THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD




READ ON AT THY PERIL



SRSLY



Right, well when I saw the film it bugged me that you never accompany "older Henry" back to his wedding. I'd have liked to see that side of the story. Clearly it's not there in the film because it's not in the book, but it irked me a little.

Also, did anyone else pick up on the little moment between Alba and the unfortunately-monikered "Spaz", the waiter in the faux diner at the end? To me, her reaction seemed to indicate that perhaps Alba knows something of her own future, and that maybe there's a sort of 'next generation' thing going on there. I liked the moment. Actually I wanted more of the older-Alba-and-time-travelling-Henry moments, just because of all the relationships in the novel, it was that between Alba and Henry whose loss, as a father myself, I felt most keenly.

I'm not ashamed to admit that by the end I was a wreck.  I don't recommend reading this book in public...!

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RE: THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Disc... - 18/10/2009 11:19:43 PM   
nomimalone


Posts: 2866
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Norn Iron
I really liked this when I read it about 2 years ago. I cried for the last section, but then I'm a big sap. I read the whole book in one day, so I'd need to re-read before commenting any more.

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RE: THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Disc... - 18/10/2009 11:34:43 PM   
hiptobesquare_x


Posts: 1384
Joined: 27/6/2009
From: A petri dish.
SPOILERS, AHOY!



I read this a few years ago after a friend recommended it, and loved it. I re-read it again and wasn't as fussed though. For me the story was brilliant, but the problem I had was with the characters. Whilst I liked Henry and Clare I couldn't help but find them just too perfect second time round, even when Clare sleeps with Gomez! They're just too interestingly perfect to be real (ok, it's fiction and Henry time travels, but everything else is grounded in reality). They like suitably literary books, have great taste in music, come out with highly intelligent quotes; even their jobs are interesting, I mean Henry's a librarian and Clare's an artist. It just seems like Niffenegger wanted to make them ultra cool and fascinating, and as a result I didn't like them half as much when I read it second time round, because things I'd thought first time like "ooh, Henry likes the Pixies!" all now seemed too deliberate. Even saying that, I still found the endng really touching, the Odyssey quote was a nice touch. The other problem I had was with Alba, what a precocious little kid! She irritated to say the least. (Even more so in the film version, gah.)

Overall, good book. Touching moments. Well written, but on the whole it just feels a little self-conscious if that makes sense. I'd still recommend it though.

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RE: THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Disc... - 19/10/2009 1:16:09 AM   
Rhubarb


Posts: 24507
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: No Direction Home
I take the point about them being almost too cultured - but only to a point, and that's because its mainly quite convincing. Either Nifenenenennnenennnengggegeer is rather cultured herself, or she's bloody well done her research, because everything in the book, places, sounds, dates, bands all feels quite real to me.

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quote:

ORIGINAL: FritzlFan

You organisational skills sicken me, Rhubarb.



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RE: THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Disc... - 19/10/2009 7:11:14 PM   
Mr Terrific


Posts: 1639
Joined: 15/7/2006
There is alot to like in the novel. But something I can't quite put my finger on stopped me from being totally satisfied by it.

I enjoyed the character of Henry at the beginning, in fact in some ways he reminded me of Karl Reece particularly at the start of the story. Obviously Claire is a complex woman, but as a character I found her hard to relate to and in some ways quite annoying. The story does lose its way around the miscarriage sub plot I felt and had a hard time buying Claires insistence of going through other miscarriages.

For me the beginning and the end are the best part of the book.


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RE: THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Disc... - 19/10/2009 8:15:53 PM   
paul_ie86


Posts: 11422
Joined: 4/1/2007
From: Chelsea Hotel #2
Just started reading this. I liked the first chapter, which is a start

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RE: THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Disc... - 19/10/2009 11:35:04 PM   
homersimpson_esq


Posts: 20116
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Springfield
I think the first chapter is pretty much always the start...

Except where there's a prologue...


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RE: THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Disc... - 20/10/2009 10:28:20 AM   
HIM


Posts: 9734
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Star Trekkin', across the universe
quote:

ORIGINAL: Mr Terrific

I enjoyed the character of Henry at the beginning, in fact in some ways he reminded me of Karl Reece particularly at the start of the story.


That's true they are both Time Travellers and know a lot about the future but Henry isn't pursued through time by a terminator.

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RE: THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Disc... - 20/10/2009 10:37:26 AM   
Mr Terrific


Posts: 1639
Joined: 15/7/2006
quote:

That's true they are both Time Travellers and know a lot about the future but Henry isn't pursued through time by a terminator.


Lol. I said this as he can be quite feral when avoiding capture by police. Like Reece he is constantly moving, getting clothed, appraising his current situation.


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RE: THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Disc... - 20/10/2009 1:18:58 PM   
Rhubarb


Posts: 24507
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: No Direction Home

quote:

ORIGINAL: homersimpson_esq

I think the first chapter is pretty much always the start...

Except where there's a prologue...



Who is to say what the start is in a Time Travel book?



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quote:

ORIGINAL: FritzlFan

You organisational skills sicken me, Rhubarb.



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RE: THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Disc... - 20/10/2009 8:10:06 PM   
homersimpson_esq


Posts: 20116
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Springfield
quote:

ORIGINAL: Rhubarb


quote:

ORIGINAL: homersimpson_esq

I think the first chapter is pretty much always the start...

Except where there's a prologue...



Who is to say what the start is in a Time Travel book?




Hmmm, *strokes beard*, I shall dwell on that a while.




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RE: THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Disc... - 22/10/2009 2:35:03 PM   
Isobel1407

 

Posts: 2
Joined: 22/10/2009
I really enjoyed the Time Traveller's Wife, and I'll be really interested to see some people's book reviews on Niffenegger's new novel, Her Fearful Symmetry. It's quite different to her last novel, a little darker, but I think it will be well worth a read.

Isobel
Books Quarterly

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RE: THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Disc... - 1/11/2009 2:17:10 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54428
Joined: 1/10/2005
I'm not a fan. I don't think it is particularly well-written - many of the characters come across as a bit smug, particularly Claire. The author never remotely convinces me she's an artist either - more like a rich girl with a hobby. But given she's spent her life being groomed by a time traveller and a screwed up mother perhaps that's no surprise. Niffenegger - linking back to that comment about Gomez above - relies far too much on Henry telling people what their relationship will be without, for the most part, bothering to take us there - it is like a lazy fait accompli, a slightly different take on fairly standard and badly written exposition.

I didn't find it romantic, and a couple of pages dealing with his concern about getting close to child - a child remember - doesn't even cover the issues this book should have hit on. As for Alba - has Audrey met a child? Or is that her dream perfect artistic child with no resemblance to reality?

The side characters were little more than cyphers for the main couple, with 'a' character trait assigned to each of them (and the rather disturbingly old-fashioned ethnic stereotypes of Nell (who spent the book barely more than a step away from the 'lauks a maudy' type crap from early Hollywood) and Kym).

It was nearly interesting once and only once - when he came back after changing how the picture was signed off to see if something could be changed, and that was that. Over in a smidgeon, nothing left here to see. And that's leaving aside the lack of credibility of the expanding number of people who know about this without it becoming known - but 5 years down the line it is accepted worldwide but one of the, presumably, few sufferers isn't shoved in a white room being questioned and what's she's seen down the line. She did sensibly avoid too much of the science stuff as she didn't seem particularly comfortable dealing with what she did include.

3/10



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RE: THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Disc... - 13/11/2009 7:39:24 PM   
paul_ie86


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I don't get all the negativity surrounding the miscarraige section. I thought it was one of the best sections of the book

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RE: THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Disc... - 14/11/2009 10:08:34 AM   
HIM


Posts: 9734
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Star Trekkin', across the universe
quote:

ORIGINAL: paul_ie86

I don't get all the negativity surrounding the miscarraige section. I thought it was one of the best sections of the book


It just became too much and made for either boring, repetitive or uncomfortable reading. To some people probably all three. I didn't think the miscarriage sub-plot should have been taken out, but there should have been less of them. Or failing that it should have been a running theme throughout the book, rather than have them all one after the other. It was like Niffenegger was trying to hammer the point home when it wasn't needed. I did like that Henry got a vasectomy and past Henry knocked up Claire.

I also agree with elab in that there were so many avenues left unexplored. The focus was definately too much on the Henry and Claire lovestory. But as I said above, it's a lovestory first and foremost and a science fiction story last.

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RE: THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - An Empire Book Club Disc... - 29/11/2009 6:08:06 PM   
Ronnie Snarko


Posts: 20
Joined: 27/11/2009
Finished this last month so it's nice to find other people who've gone through this as well. For myself, I really enjoyed it. I get what people are saying about the slight smugness of the characters, but to be honest I'd much rather have them like that, as it adds an extra emphasis when they realise that they can't be all controlled and knowing all of the time, and that Henry's time is running out and there's nothing they can do about it.

The whole temporal narration is astoundingly well done - it's probably be best grasp on the potentials and dangers of a person travelling through time that I've ever seen, with a solid grasp on the way that other people's (linear) lives are affected. It's only at the end you realise why Claire's brother and father are so freaked out when they saw Henry in the Christmas get together all those chapters back. The author also does a really good job of keeping the inherent creepiness potential of the main romance as low as possible and turning it into something beautiful. Especially at the end - it was a real lump in my throat moment when I reached that last chapter and realised that Claire has been waiting all these years for this one last moment with her Henry.

Haven't seen the movie, but now I've been through the book I've no real inclination to. I thank god that all the spoilers that Rachel McAdams blurted out in her Daily Show interview (if she'd been on this forum she would have been publicly ostracised for lack of spoiler warnings) didn't ruin any of the book in the end! I had to lunge for the off switch as she was starting to give away everything the silly moo.

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