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Updated: July 1, 2010 18:46 IST

Time travelling

VISHALA R.
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The Time Traveler's Wife: Audrey Niffenegger
The Time Traveler's Wife: Audrey Niffenegger

Although it might seem like a highly technical science fiction plot that explores the mysteries of the time-space continuum, it is actually a delicately crafted romantic novel.

Title: The Time Traveler's Wife

Author: Audrey Niffenegger

Publisher: MacAdam/Cage

‘The Time Traveler's wife' is the story of a man with a genetic mutation (Chrono-Displacement Disorder) that transports him backwards and forwards through time, randomly and without the least warning.

Although this might seem like the basis for a highly technical science fiction plot that explores the mysteries of the time-space continuum, it is actually a delicately crafted romantic novel.

What it does explore however, are the mysteries of love, fate and destiny. The story, of Henry Detamble, a librarian, who travels through time and his wife - Clare Abshire(an artist) - who waits for him, is told from alternating first-person perspectives.

Understanding relationships

The novel is characterized by a lucid and raw style of writing, heart rending strokes of emotion that have made it an international bestseller.

It is rumoured that the author, Audrey Niffengger, wrote this book as a reflection on her failed relationships. It is easy to see that frustration and doubt reflected in the plot. The time travel symbolizes the emotional distance and the lack of communication in a relationship; an almost ominous air of predestination and helplessness hangs over the entire novel. Despite the less-than-cheery nature of the book, it is absolutely free of cynicism of any kind. Indeed, the devotional love of Henry and Clare, is both touchingly poignant and frustratingly hackneyed, in equal parts. Thus, the novel alternates between emotional depth and shallow clichés.

Novel idea

Yet, the author's unique take on time travel and the novel idea of a romance that moves haphazardly through time makes for quite an interesting read. Henry's time travelling affliction lends the novel fascinating complexities, making his relationship with Clare both random and predestined and enabling the bond between them to exist at several different stages in their lives, simultaneously. All in all, the book is a rewarding journey if you can bear with the occasionally dull writing.

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