Tag Archives: Audrey Niffenegger

Book: The Time Traveler’s Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife
If McDonald’s® sold books, they’d sell this one. It’s fat, greasy, bitesize, objectionable and tasteless.

Fast, bite-sized and tasteless.
560 pages, ★

Critics were right to call The Time Traveler’s Wife “sexy” in their reviews. It’s “sexy” because it’s absolutely overloaded with sex: sex in the form of extra-marital affairs (which could possibly be excused by time travel), sex in the form of Henry f*cking Clare, and—mostly—sex in the form of Clare f*cking Henry. Sex and time travel are the only two aspects of this book that will stick in my mind.

The story is very simple: Henry and Clare meet, get married, and then attempt to have a baby. The book is written as an amalgamation of their two diaries, with the date and each character’s ages written at the top of each entry. The difference between Henry and Clare’s ages is a little disturbing (30 and 22 in “real time”, or 36 and 6 during an episode of “time travel”).

But time travel in this book is scientifically flawed. On page 322, we discover that this ability is the result of four very authentic-sounding genes: per4, timeless1, Clock and  an ‘unnamed gene’, and the book’s sleeve describes Henry’s time travel as “periodical genetic clock reset”. But by plotting their ages onto a chart, we notice two strange phenomena:

Time Travelers Wife Ages Chart
Henry and Clare’s ages from The Time Traveler’s Wife plotted against time. People who don’t time-travel age in a straight line. Two adjacent dots indicate two of the characters co-existing (and sometimes interacting).

First, Henry’s time travel can’t be due to “genetic clock reset” because he almost always travels backwards in time, not forwards.

Second, look at the uppermost orange dot on the chart. This shows that the end of the novel, Clare, too, travels back in time.

So what’s going on? The author tells us at one point that Henry is schizophrenic and all his time-travel is a hallucination. But if that were true, then he’d be able to hallucinate about the past but not step into the future and change it. It also doesn’t explain Clare’s diary entries from the future—unless the whole book is a hallucination. Either way, I no longer care. ★★