Jump to content

First impressions of The Time Traveler's Wife

Recommended Posts

This is for people who have read just the first few chapters. If you haven't yet, reading the following will be a spoiler.

I watched the R&J review and have bought the book. So far I'm maybe a dozen pages into it.

I'm not loving the double first-person narrative. It reminds me of Kevin Sampson's Outlaws, where the same story is told from multiple viewpoints. I find it just detracts from the story, and makes the book feel a bit gimmicky. Maybe it'll grow on me as I read more, and it certainly won't stop me reading it.

Secondly, I'm not yet buying into this "Chrono-Displacement Disorder" plot device. It's too Sci-Fi for my liking, and just too "handy" for the author: "I need to have the guy time travel, so here's how I've made it happen." I'm hoping it's resolved later on. If it's a premise I have to swallow just so the book could be written I'll be disappointed.

As you might have guessed, I'm not wholly convinced just yet.

What's your first impressions of the book?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can I suggest we limit our comments to first impressions for the next week or two.


That's why I started this thread with exactly this title. I imagine there'll be loads of different threads about the book, and wanted this to be just about what you thought after having just started reading it. I also hoped it'd be about what you heard about it in the media before you started it.


I have suggested to Bill that we need a SPOILER tag, so that we can hide comments that might be a spoiler (you would highlight spoilered text to see it, but it's hidden by default).


I haven't read enough of the book yet, but I'm guessing two other threads ought to be "Suspension of Disbelief" and "Inappropriality"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I started this book a few weeks ago and have read others in between. Hence I am only a liitle way in and keep picking it up and trying again. I think for me it doesn't flow well enough to keep my attention, fickle as i am, and as mentioned before I can't relate or empathise we with the two main characters. I know it is written different from the norm narratively, but should this be enough to entice me to carry on reading it??


Can someone convince me??

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know how far you are into it, but it took me a while to get into as well, and as you've probably already seen, I loved it in the end! You get used to the narrative, and I think it works quite well, creating tensions and anticipation - it's kind of confusing, but it mirrors the way the characters (especially Henry) must feel themselves. Imagine you're time travelling while reading...????! That might help!


I say keep going, anyway if you hate it you can at least disparage it from an educated point of view!

Link to comment
Share on other sites



Keep reading!!!


As you know from my dreadful faux pas of spoilers I am not keen on the book but I'm modifying my original opinion of it not being well written. I've since thought that if it were truly badly written I would not have an opinion on it - I'd just ignore. This book certainly elicited a response from me albeit a negative one. Maybe it hones our ability to view a book critically to read something we may not like just to work out why. Or is that just hard work?

I seem to remember Bill's comments that he started this site in response to the need to rant about a book he hated.


So Keep reading!!!!



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have decided to split this thread, and use those posts that contained spoliers to start a new thread called 'Narrative structure / Henry and Clare - SPOILERS!' So hopefully this thread can go back to doing what it says in the title and concentrate on First Impressions.


Sorry of it makes this thread a little confusing, as there are still references remaining to posts that are now in the other thread!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm about 130 pages in and have to say I am thoroughly enjoying it. I've always been fascinated with the concept of time travel, but I am quite clear that anyone who writes about it is writing fiction based on something that is believed to be scientifically impossible - we call it science fiction. I think that if you are expecting the author to go on to come up with a plausible explanation for the lead character travelling in time, then you're really missing the point. With sci-fi, you have to suspend belief - what matters is the story and the characters, not whether it's scientifically possible.


For the first 20 pages or so, I found it very confusing, but eventually you have to work on the assumption that the author has told the story in a seemingly random order for a very good reason. Just let the story flow, and you come to realise that those little hints about events from the past (or future) are creating a unique atmosphere of suspense.


It's an almost unique story, told in a unique way, and I am very grateful to BrumB for BookCrossing it to me.


To the doubters among you - stick with it - my copy of dark Tower 6 has arrived, but it stays on the shelf untill I've finished TTW - that's a measure of how much I am enjoying it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm on page 50-odd, and am also thoroughly enjoying it so far. Being completely unscientific, I don't need a realistic explanation of why Henry time travels. (Just as in Big, I didn't need a plausible reason for why an 11 year old boy became Tom Hanks, or in Freaky Friday, why the mother and daughter swapped lives.) I think it's important to accept a novel on the author's own terms, although that doesn't mean you have to enjoy it.


EARLY SPOILER I'm finding the whole concept intriguing - meeting your future wife when she is a child, becoming a mentor to your own self, meeting yourself when you're just a few months older (what were those two 15 year olds doing???). I'm dying to know how it all plays itself out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i'm about a third into the book.. not much action really, lots of talking..and romance.. several friends expressed enthusiaism when i mentioned i'm reading it.. i think it is more of a love story.. truthfully, it's not doing much for me but it is pleasant and an easy read. I think i like things with a little more conflict.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

MD&G - yes, the two 15 year-old Henrys (or should that be Henries?). And did the father realise that there were 2 boys in the room? As far as I can make out, he wasn't aware of his son's time-travelling problem - and even if he was, would he have expected to see his son twice in the same time and space? His reaction seemed to relate to what his son was doing - we are left to draw our own conclusion on this, but I suppose we could be wrong! Maybe the father saw 2 people and assumed one was his son and the other was a friend.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I@m pretty sure the father DOES know about the Time Travelling, i'm sure it's mentioned somewhere that they take him to different doctors and things, plus there's another incident (which I won't mention on this thread as it may be a spoiler) where they couldn't not know really.


Just to put my tuppence worth in...!


I'm glad other people are enjoying it, there's been quite a lot of negative feedback on it so this is good!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe the father saw 2 people and assumed one was his son and the other was a friend.


That was my interpretation too. Surely the father wouldn't have been particularly shocked if Henry had been on his own - embarrassed perhaps. I suppose it's not a homosexual act if you're doing it to yourself! The mind fairly boggles. Certainly, that scene was a bolt from the blue, and didn't sit comfortably with what went on before. However, I don't know what is to come (not being a time traveller myself).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

this was one of the few things that annoyed me about the novel - some things happen that are never explained properly, one of them being this incident with the 2 henrys. there's a few more. i don't know WHAT they were up to but as MDG says, 'the mind fairly boggles'!!


maybe it's to kind of put the reader in the same kind of situation henry often finds himself in? like he'll come across himself in the present and be a bit confused as to whats going on in the future, or he'll time travel to the future and find himself in some obscure situation and he doesn't really know what's going on. we are as confused regarding some scenes as henry must be himself at the time..... just a (badly articulated :o ) thought!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm about a 1/3 way through, and thoroughly enjoying the story. I enjoy Science-Fiction, and don't think this really feels like a Sci-fi book. It is definitely more a love story, but not a soppy book. To me, it seems that Henry can only really be his real self when he is with Clare. His life has obviously made him become a very tough character in order to survive in certain situations, but the kind, gentle side seems to surface when he is with Clare.


I like that he interacts with himself in his time-travelling episodes, it makes the story a bit different from the usual time-travel stories around. I get the feeling that this story might not have a very happy ending, but I could be wrong. Will have to wait and see.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I've only read the first couple of chapters, so have not read any of the above in case I spoil something for myself, but I had to make a comment about what I have read so far because I have that lovely feeling I get about books that I know I'm going to enjoy, Its pure excitment and I can't wait till I get home so I can lock myself away and read it in piece and quite!!


I thought that I was not going to get how the whole thing worked, but the first chapter sorted it out for my poor simple mind, so far I just love the idea of it, fingers crossed it continues like it started!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Similar Content

    • By Flingo
      Rescued Thread When Bill has caught up with some things, please can we have the forum for this back, and then get it moved? Cheers!

      Flingo 8th June 2006 11:06 PM

      I thought in Bill's absense we could start a couple of threads about Holes here and have the discussion that so many people are keen to do before we forget what we want to say. It should be able to be moved once the new board is open, shouldn't it?

      So what are people's first impressions? I know some people have finished it - but please remember anyone could call in here, so spoiler if necessary!

      I really enjoyed Holes. My children's librarian mentor has been urging me to read this for ages but I had never got round to it, and am now really disappointed that I left it so long!

      It's really clever, although it takes a bit to understand where all the threads of the story are going.

      The writing is so easy to read, and you feel drawn in almost immediately. I could felt the heat of Camp Green Lake radiating out of the book - a huge acheivement!

      megustaleer 8th June 2006 11:34 PM

      I read it some years ago, and loved it. I really don't know why it has not been a bigger hit as a 'crossover' book. I thought that the way all those plot threads were neatly tied up was just so satisfying, and so clever!

      Have just checked my reading list, and it is six years since I read it, and I can still remember quite a lot of it; it really made an impression!

      katrina 9th June 2006 06:02 PM

      Hey, this is my second read of this book in a year, as I had to read it at the start of my PGCE course, its a really popular keystage 3 yext. I prefered it this time around, the first time I was annoyed by it, but I can't remember why now.

      Thought the writing was good, and the sense of the lake and the heat were well depicted.

      Momo 9th June 2006 06:20 PM

      I can well imagine that it's six years since Meg read it. My oldest son read it when he was a year younger than my youngest one is now and he is five years older. It had just come out otherwise he would have done it earlier as my younger one has.
      Anyway, even though both my boys had read it, I never did so myself. Somehow it always seemed like a book for little boys. So, I was pleasantly surprised when it wasn't that at all. (We even have the DVD and I never watched that either!)
      I will recommend this book to anyone. It's a quick read, yet very interesting and there is a lot in this. More than last month's read.

      katrina 10th June 2006 08:30 AM

      I was wondering if anybody had watched the film version of the book, if I have time this week I'm going to borrow it from school and take a peak at it, I've heard its quite a good adaptation

      Flingo 10th June 2006 10:45 AM

      I picked it up on Wednesday, and will be watching it tomorrow.

      I think we ought to have a thread about the film in this section, so that we can discuss comparisons and similarities? Whoever watches it first can start that!

      megustaleer 16th June 2006 08:56 AM

      belweb says on another thread that she thought the plot was full of holes! I beg to differ! The thing that I like about this book is that there are no 'holes', everything is all neatly sewn up at the end!

      Admittedly a lot of the connections are contrived, but I thought that was part of the humour of the book. My reactions were along the lines of 'Well I Never!! and 'Who'd've Thought It!' , and I thought it was all very cleverly brought to a satisfying (if not necessarily satisfactory) conclusion.

      I wouldn't have accepted the neat conclusion in a serious adult novel, but 'Horses for Courses', eh? And there's plenty of food for thought in there, too.

      The book probably suffered from being read in the middle of reading for an Eng. Lit. degree. I'm sure it wouldn't stand comparison to the other books occupying belwebb's thoughts.

      Momo 16th June 2006 01:45 PM

      I don't know either what kind of holes belwebb saw in this novel. As Meg already mentions, and we all should consider this, this is a children's book. We cannot expect deep meanings that you will only understand after studying English Lit.

      belwebb 16th June 2006 05:28 PM
      Yes, you've made some valid points. However, when you say 'contrived' I think that's the word I should have used - it was incredibly contrived, but then, like you say, I was in the middle of an English lit course!

      elfstar 16th June 2006 06:38 PM

      I enjoyed this book, it had a nice 'roundness' to it,there was no unhappy or unresolvesd ending for the protagonist, the characters were not as deep as they could have been but it is a childrens book and a such it was very acceptable

      donnae 19th June 2006 11:17 PM

      I really enjoyed this book. I loved how the story of the past was neatly interlinked with Stanley's story. Contrived maybe, but very enjoyable still. At least it ties up a lot more ends than last month's read!

      As this was a children's story, I liked the manner in which the anti-racialism was dealt with, not too heavy-handed. There were some obvious morals going on in the book, but they didn't overshadow the story.

      There is a sequel to Holes called Small Steps. This follows the lives of Armpit and Xray.

      Holes is a book I will be encouraging my children to read - I think they will all enjoy it. One of my daughters has watched the film and enjoyed it. Flingo, have you watched it yet?

      Adrian 20th June 2006 01:50 AM

      I was thinking the same thing, donnae. It's pretty obvious when you read it.

      megustaleer 20th June 2006 09:34 PM

      Because it is a children's book, and apparantly a straightforward account of Stanley's misadventures, perhaps there is a tendency to whiz through it without picking up the clues?

      Once you know how it all fits together, of course, a lot of it was clearly hinted at in advance.

      Hindsight's a wonderful thing!

      Adrian 20th June 2006 09:52 PM

      I certainly did that, not giving the book its due respect and racing through it. I'll have to re-read it, or maybe listen to the audio version.

      Flingo 23rd June 2006 08:47 PM
      I did watch it - though it was really nicely done. Louis Sachar actually wrote the screenplay, which I think helped keeping it true to the book.

      Recommend watching it if you enjoyed the book.
    • By Adrian
      I'm about halfway through (he's spending Christmas with her family and has just found out her Mum's a manic depressive - and after reading this book, love, so am I), and unless I get I get some positive feedback here, I'm giving up.

      I posted my first impressions earlier, and I'm afraid it's getting worse.

      Firstly it didn't grab me from the start and I read other books inbetween - always a bad sign. Still, I vowed to stick with it, and once I got past the awkward narrative structure it improved. The enforced double-narrative seemed a little contrived, and I felt whenever the authour switched voices in mid-scene Niffenegger was really forcing the change of voice to make it obvious it was now the other person narrating. Seemed a bit like Kevin Samson writing in Outlaws, where each narrator gets his own unique voice.

      Secondly, the basic premise of the novel, time travel, is mishandled and cack-handedly written. Two versions of himself in the same time frame? (Believe me ladies, if we could do that to ourselves the human race would be extinct). Some evolutionary mishap in the human genome being allowed to rewrite the laws of physics? Those I could live with, but TTW is just an affront to basic common sense. I keep asking myself questions instead of losing myself in the book. Why just appear now? Why just disappear now? More important is the where? How does he go to a particular place as well a particular time?

      Also, the nastiness of the bloke: "I can't help myself so I can do whatever I like." Beat people up? Sure! Rob and steal? Why not! Buy stocks cheap? Who wouldn't! Run naked through the neighbourhood? Well, I tried this, and the police would just not believe my story!

      Most importantly, I don't care about the love story. So he loves her and they love each other, and so forth. I find both of them so insufferable that I don't care about their relationship(s).

      I'm half-heartedly interested in the secondary goings on. I like Kimy, and I like Clare's room-mate, but can't stand the room-mate's boyfriend.

      My current thinking is, "This is not a book to tossed away lightly. It is to hurled with great force."

      I'd like either an incentive to finish it (bearing in mind I have a long list of others waiting on my TBR pile) or, preferably, a precis of the ending. I'm guessing she dies of some disease he can't prevent, and he knows it (of course he knows it, he just can't get involved in any ethical situation that would ruin the house-of-cards plot), but doesn't tell her.

      God, I hate them both. Hey Audrey, try going back in time before Stephen Fry wrote Making History.
    • By Mad Dog & Glory
      Having finally finished The Time Traveler's Wife last night (yes, I know, I'm a bit behind), I was left feeling a little dissatisfied. I loved it for around 200 pages, but then I thought it tailed off badly and left a lot of unanswered questions. Not only the time travel - I had no problems with suspending disbelief, although the most unbelievable part was that they were allowed to lead a 'normal' life, rather than Henry being captured and studied by the US government.

      It's the so-called 'normal' life that concerns me. It seems incredible that I could read a 500+ page novel centring almost exclusively on two characters, and at the end not really have much of an idea of each other's personalities or how they went about their daily lives. At one point, Henry buys a lottery ticket knowing the result and wins several million dollars, so Clare can have a studio. No other mention is made of this. So are they millionaires? They seem to live in normal-sized house, in a normal street. So what do they do with themselves when Henry isn't time travelling? They're not watching TV, as Henry can't. They can't spend all of their time in bed.

      The other huge problem with the novel is lack of conflict, which is essential to all drama. Henry and Clare have this 'perfect' relationship, and are only unhappy with each other over the miscarriages. There were all sorts of potential themes and conflicts that Niffenegger shied away from. Why does Clare never question the fact that this man came into her life at the age of 5 and, as they say, ruined her for other men?
      Niffenegger seems so intent on making this the perfect love story that she misses a lot of tricks.

      My guess is that Audrey Niffenegger will be a one-hit wonder. She came up with a brilliant idea, and also came up with a good structure (although some disagree), and played out every permutation of time travelling possible. But in the end a great idea can get you only so far, and I don't feel she has the skills as a novelist to get as much out of the story as was potentially there.
    • By babelbel
      I know that there are still people out there reading this but I thought it might be good to round up the general impression the group had of this book.

      So here is the poll to gauge whether it gets the or the or even the
  • Create New...