Over the weekend I finished reading The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I had heard a number of people say they really liked the book quite awhile ago (it first came out back in 2004) and I've always wanted to read it, I just hadn't gotten it into my hands until now. A couple of months ago we bought The Time Traveler's Wife on DVD and I refused to watch it until I read the book first. When I finished the book on Saturday I followed it up with the movie, so now I can review both for you!
A quick synopsis of the book (but I won't give anything away if you're thinking about reading it!):
Henry is a time traveler. It's something in his DNA that makes him time travel and he can't control when it will happen or where he will go in time. He rarely visits the future, but he often visits the past- even past versions of himself.
Clare meets Henry when she's just a little girl and Henry is a full-grown man. She became close with Henry as she was growing up and knew that their lives would always be intertwined- even though she never knew when Henry would show up or when he would disappear.
In "real time" Henry is 12 years older than Clare, but during the time that Henry is visiting her when she's under the age of 18, he's always in his 30's. This is where the whole concept of Henry's time travel is a little hard to grasp- the 30-something Henry who is visiting Clare happens in the future when Henry actually is 30-something. So the "real time" Henry is somewhere else out in the world in his late teens/20's and has no idea who Clare is. Are you throughly confused now?
The amazing thing is that the author, Audrey Niffenegger, writes in such a way that it's not as confusing as one would assume. I'll admit, I was confused a bit at some points, but not to the extent that it took anything away from the story whatsoever.
And the story- my goodness. Possibly the best love story I have ever read. I think a piece of it is that it's completely unique due to Henry's time travel, but I don't feel like that's what made it so wonderful. I have trouble finding the right way to describe it, but the connection that Henry and Clare have is so unfathomably deep and their love for one another is so completely pure- it's the best example of true love that I have ever seen in writing.
I was excited to watch the movie right away after I finished the book. I didn't have high expectations for the portrayal of the love story because I just felt like the book did such an incredible job with it- that would be hard to live up to. I was very much looking forward to seeing how the movie moved through the timeline of the story though. With all of Henry's time travel, I thought that being able to visually follow it in the movie would take away the moments of confusion I had while reading the book.
I though that the movie was good (but not great), but I don't know if I would have felt this way if I hadn't read the book first. I think that if I saw it before I read the book I wouldn't have understood the depth of Henry and Clare's relationship- which was the most incredible part of their story. The filmmakers did do a fantastic job with the time travel though. As I had hoped, it helped me to connect all of the different time lines together and understand more fully how they all worked together. Plus Clare is played by Rachel McAdams and I've always enjoyed her as an actress.
My final recommendation: Without a doubt, read the book- it's beautiful. Once you've finished the book, then watch the movie. It won't do the love story justice, but it's a good clarification of how the time travel works.
Have any of you already read the book or watched the movie? What did you think?