Monday, July 18, 2005

July Book Club: Time Traveler's Wife

Five wonderful bibliophiles arrived promptly at 6:30 pm for our monthly ritual: dinner, check-in and talk about our book of the month. We are avid readers with voracious tastes. My book club rocks. This month we discussed The Time Traveler's Wife by first time author Audrey Niffenegger. This month I have probably read five other books, just for kicks. I love to read and read deeply.

I was engaged in TTW throughout all five hundred something pages, but was miffed when I finished. What was it all really about? It has been said that the author’s main theme is…waiting. Perhaps if I wait, the novel will grow on me. As the hostess this month, I was in charge of dinner: gazpacho, sardine spread on fresh bread, grilled pork with pineapple and fresh Michigan blueberry pie. It is after 11:oo and I have done most of the washing and tidying; my brain is too saturated with blueberries to write much of anything worthwhile.

Next month’s book is Louise Erdrich’s The Master Butchers Singing Club. Between now and next month I will be on the road: Mont Blanc and the Carpathians beckon. The time traveler's wife was never so lucky.

1 comment:

J.K.Kelley said...

Here are the comments of a dear friend, who shall remain anonymous unles she wishes, who emailed me her gushes about TTW:

/the time traveler's wife/. my book club read it a few
months ago, too. i ADORED it. really. every page. i
wept. i cried. i laughed. loved, loved, loved it. let
me try and remember some of the things my little club

/the time traveler's wife/ is both the actual telling
of one fictitious love and metaphor for the elements
essential to real, deep, lasting love.

-niffenegger unapologetically casts clare in the
age-old woman's plight--she's penelope, keeping hearth
and home, waiting for her unwilling odysseus while he
has countless adventures and brushes with death. we
could sigh and throw down the novel in disgust, but we
don't. i find her treatment of what could be a tired
stereotype to be sensitive and beautiful. she uses the
set up to speak of the fidelity of hearts across all

-all of clare's friends warn her that henry is no good
and that she should leave him--he's the ultimate
absent boyfriend. he metaphorically cheats (is with
other women, and is abusive to them, "after" he meets
her and she falls in love with him). he abandons her
(both in actuality and, from her friend's p.o.v.,
psychologically, never there when she needs him). here
niffenegger doesn't create a morality play. she teases
the metaphor and makes a strong and believable case
for the exception--the one case where it's appropriate
for the woman to stand by her seemingly no-good man.
turning stereotype on its ear? that's a good time.
this is one author whose agenda is to write a good
story, not a public service announcement.

-it is a story of waiting. and while told in the
torturous time lines of clare and henry's love for
each other, it's the story of every couple that loves.
we each mature into love for each other at different
paces. and isn't it often the PROMISE of love that
calls us to that maturity in the first place? (clare
grew into who she was supposed to be because henry
told her they were supposed to be together.
conversely, henry grew out of his own abusive
immaturity to be the man he was supposed to be because
clare told her they were supposed to be together. a
very fun plot twist.) with true, deep, lasting love,
we teach each other how to love and how to accept our

-and, as i've mentioned above, theirs is a story of
never-ending love. because, even though henry dies in
the telling, another henry from the past is always
waiting in the wings to come back and adore clare
again in her old age. in a way, this love story trumps
all others: while place and class and sympathy of mind
might prove hurdles in ALL love stories, time makes
this love truly last forever. clare always has the
hope that she'll see her lover again. in this
instance, death cannot even conquer this love.

-when henry finally decides to cut his hair (i'm
seeing a mullet beforehand; think "jason patric in
'lost boys'" it as
clare always remembered as a child--it's a symbol of
his finally being ready to accept her love, finally
being willing to change himself for her, to sacrifice
in order to become the man she needs him to be.
-FYI, i always think of clare as january jones, one
of the actresses from "american wedding"
(who is dating josh groban, by the by).

okay. that's all i can think of regarding /the time
traveler's wife/ presently.