Monday, 4 November 2013

The Time Traveler’s Wife

by Audrey Niffenegger

Oh well. I finally finished this book. Why it became an international bestseller, I don’t know. There’s enough good and bad books about time travel already. A bit of sci-fi that could have been interesting. In fact, the concept is interesting. But it was explained in the very first chapter. Eighteen pages. It could have been a good, or even great, short story. What we have instead is a pretentious romance going for five hundred something pages. So I was trudging through it for the last month in a hope that something unpredictable (from that first chapter) will happen. No such luck.

All in all, it is not that bad, although some scenes did make me cringe — such as when Clare is in labour and Henry... reads her Rilke (translated by Stephen Mitchell, copyright © 1982, used by permission of Random House, Inc. That’s right, there’s an awful lot of copyrighted stuff used by permission, and none of it is needed at all.) Or Henry going to the opera to hear Tristan und Isolde. Please!

Just one question: why on earth the person who leaves his clothes behind when time-travelling (fascinating theory, although, as any time traveller can confirm, completely wrong) he does not go someplace nice? I mean, if he moved to Fuerteventura, it would be so much easier on everybody. He could appear out of nowhere and sit naked there, without having any job, and read Rilke aloud to his heart’s content, and nobody would give a hoot. But no, he has to be either in South Haven or in Chicago, where there’s always a pressing need to steal clothes, or else people will stare, or beat him up, etc. I guess it is because the author has lived in or near Chicago for most of her life and cannot possibly imagine there could be life elsewhere.

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