Monday, August 17, 2009


Last night, somewhere in the predawn hours of 1-2 a.m., I finished my time with Clare and Henry (and Alba, too). I had been pretty intrigued by the intricate use of flashback and foreshadow so carefully entwined in this time traveler's tale. I enjoyed the oddity of perspectives as either Clare or Henry recounted what was occurring in each other's life at any given point. I didn't even mind the somewhat random use of crude sexual language and occasional vulgarity that otherwise quite proper (in speech) characters spewed.

But I am disappointed. Disappointed that this wife wasn't as pure as the love story initially suggested. Disappointed that she waited so long for a man who was never really hers. Disappointed in the number of secrets these "soulmates" kept from one another. Disappointed that the novel holds to the concept of predetermination and throws free will and choice out the window. Disappointed that there really wasn't any happy ending in this tale. Disappointed that the wife was replaced by the child in the traveler's journeys. Just plain disappointed.

It's a book that I am happy to have said "I read." No doubt I'll never look at The Odyssey the same again, as countless references were made to the tremendous waiting and longing of Penelope who put her life (and that of her son) on hold while Odysseus carelessly wandered the world. And perhaps that was what Niffenegger intended - a modern take on the epic story.

Somehow this novel was not the escape I needed right now. The infidelity. The loss. The struggle to find peace when all around is sadness, frustration, pain. The casting away of one's creative dreams to satisfy some other person's needs (or wants). And the futility of living as though one had a choice when everything's all happened already.

It may seem that I am writing in code. In a way, I am. No doubt theater goers caught the movie this weekend and have a basic idea of what I am talking about. And certainly, those who have already completed the novel "get" what I've said, too; thought they may not share my feelings. I don't want to be the spoiler, the reason someone else doesn't pick up the novel.

But I am not a fan of the novel. I like the author - - her work would probably draw me again if the subject matter were a little less related to my right now. And so The Time Traveler's Wife is going back up on the shelf and I am going to have to find something a little more removed from reality to satisfy me.

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