Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The Time Traveller's Wife

One of the things that I really wish I'd given a higher priority too is keeping my book blog up to date.  Not that I read all that much these days.  I always seem to have much higher priorities for my time: an incomprehensible statement for people like CJ and many of my friends.  Add to that the fact that I'm a very slow reader and the problem shouldn't be so big.  One of the problems in not keeping it up to date is that I often just cannot recall the ins and outs of books I have read over the last few years even though I have a reasonable recollection (leastways I think I do) of books I read when I was in my early 20s.

One book I've been trying to read is The Time Traveller's Wife , Audrey Niffenegger's d├ębut novel.  I started it several years ago and it's travelled back and forth between Scotland and New Zealand several times but despite many attempts and re-starts (several from the beginning) I've never got past half-way.  Last year I attempted to watch the film but even that defeated me and I didn't get past the first half hour.  I don't even know why I found it so hard to cope with.  Yesterday, however, I had a breakthrough:  I watched the film to the end.  

There might be a few amongst you you have not read the novel nor seen the film.  For you here is a synopsis of the basis of the book:
Using alternating first-person perspectives, the novel tells the stories of Henry DeTamble (born 1963), a librarian at the Newberry Library in Chicago, and his wife, Clare Anne Abshire (born 1971), an artist who makes paper sculptures. Henry has a rare genetic disorder, which comes to be known as Chrono-Displacement, that causes him to involuntarily travel through time. When 20-year-old Clare meets 28-year-old Henry at the Newberry Library in 1991 at the opening of the novel, he has never seen her before, although she has known him most of her life.
The book, though a huge sales success on publication in 2003, did not receive the rave reviews that might have been expected with some criticism of its pedestrian writing and style and sometimes contrived though clever plot.  In general, the film received mixed-to-negative reviews. For example, The New York Times wrote that the film was an "often ridiculous, awkward, unsatisfying and dour melodramatic adaptation".  I had never read any reviews until I came to write this post (or if I had I've completely forgotten).  Perhaps sub-consciously I just didn't find the book satisfying.

Maybe now that I've seen the film I can one day watch it again so that I can appreciate all the bits I didn't take in and perhaps, just perhaps, I will have another go at the book.  It's one that I feel I ought to have mastered.

14 comments:

  1. I loved the book and have read it three times ( more if you count the times when I sometimes just read the end) .The movie was ok - I have watched it twice - but it never grabbed me the way the book did - and yes it flicks back and forth in time, but the whole concept of it all fascinated me; meeting yourself at all ages, your daughter, your partner, your mother after she has died....the deception, the loneliness, the grief, the ending...
    sigh
    perhaps its a chick thing!

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    1. I don't think it's necessarily a chick thing Fiona. I think the whole idea is fascinating which may be why I've kept going back to it and I've always been a romantic (as are many men whatever the image they may portray). You have strengthened my resolve to have another go at re-reading it.

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  2. I've neither read the book nor watched the film, but it does remind me a bit of the "Benjamin Button"-film I watched maybe two years ago. In case you are not familiar with that one, the main character is born old and grows younger with every year, up to the point of being a baby and eventually dies. It is quite a touching story in many parts, and it was - I think - very well done.

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    1. I enjoyed the Benjamin Button film Meike and it does have a certain resemblance in that it plays with our concepts of time. I'd be interested to know how you feel if you see the TTTW movie.

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  3. I like my stories simple....I have just finished the Black House by Peter May. I previously read Lewis Man....I got them in the wrong order but it made little real difference.....The thrid book in the trilogy is out in January....I think it's called Chessmen...I'm looking forward to it.

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    1. Adrian, I'm reading the Blackhouse now - I'm about half way into it, and I'm finding it a very good read so I'm looking forward to the rest.

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    2. Monica, it's a bit slow getting going but then like the sequel is a one hit read.

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    3. Adrian I'm just about to start on The Blackhouse having been told by so many how good it is.

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  4. I loved the book! The film was okay too. My husband didn't care for the book or the film so maybe it is a female thing. It was a pretty tough way to have to live I must say. I have read other books by Audrey N and liked them too.

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    1. Hi Ali and welcome to AHINZ. I might wait a bit before trying another of her books although they do look tempting.

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  5. I read (listened to) the book earlier this year. I've not seen the film and I'm not sure I particularly want to. (Not because I did not like the book, but because I DID like the book, and doubt that a film version could quite live up to it.) I listened to it in Swedish translation so maybe at some point I'll reread it in English. The problem when I listen to books - which I often do at night - is that I often fall asleep and even if I rewind a bit next time I often miss parts of the story. I recall that with this book I did a lot of going back to repeat... But I did really like it, to me the time-travelling aspect reflects so much that goes on "under the surface" in any relationship.

    Like you I often feel that with many books that I read, I soon forget details. However when I look back at the list of books I read this year, this is among the few that stand out. Not that I can claim to recall every twist and turn of the plot, but I certainly don't mix it up with anything else I read!

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    1. I usually enjoy watching films of books I've read Monica. There are several reasons: one being that there are no nasty surprises! I've never been one for surprises - nice or nasty.

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  6. I never had the chance to read the book, but I did enjoy watching the movie a few years ago when it came out.
    I found it fascinating, and somewhat sad to live your life that way, but it still left an indelible impression on my mind.

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    1. Yes, Virginia, I think whatever one feels for the film one is likely to be left with a significant memory of it.

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