Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger (Audio)

I have a story.  (I know, I always have a story.)  Years ago, everyone said that The Time Traveler's Wife (from now on referred to as TTTW) was the best book they'd ever read, best book of the year, best, best, best.  I bought the book, and there it sat.  It was kinda long.  My BFF and my mother said they couldn't get through it.  Excuses.  Then the movie came out.  Oh Lord, NO, I can't watch the movie first.  That is against the book lover's laws of the universe.  But ultimately I DID see the movie first, and now I think that blunder served me well.  I will explain why in just a minute.

Synopsis:  Henry is a time-traveler, an affliction caused by a genetic defect, and has been since he was five years old.  He never knows when he is going to travel, where he is going to travel, or for how long.  His orbit of visitations seem to revolve around his mother, who died tragically when he was young, and Clare, the beautiful redhead who he will eventually marry.  Henry and Clare seem to be a destined couple, as Henry has been traveling back in time to spend moments with her since she was 8.  When Clare is 20 and Henry is 28, they meet in "real" time and begin the business of living and loving with this disruptive and isolating illness.

Traveling back and forth in time can be a complicated matter.  Henry knows things that happen in the future, and often certain facts must be kept to himself.  How on earth do you tell someone when they are going to die, that they will give birth to a handicapped baby, or that the twin towers will fall to the ground?  At times, Henry will apparate into sub-zero temperatures, into oncoming traffic, into places he cannot escape.  How can he be certain to stay grounded at the most critical times?  How can he condemn Clare to live such an uncertain life?

My thoughts:  Nothing on earth, not even the movie, could have prepared me for what might likely be the most beautiful, most moving love story I have ever read in my life.  I've always claimed that I'm not a romantic, but this book knocked me on my cynical ass. 

I can see where some might have some initial struggles with the story.  While Clare's life is linear, Henry jumps around in time all over the place.  Had I not seen the movie first, and had a general idea of the plot, I might have been confused.  The 43 year-old man and the 8 year-old girl scenario was weird too at first, but whatever.  Nothing inappropriate occurred, and it set up the notion that their fates were intertwined.  My advice to those that didn't finish the book:  TRUST AND BE VIGILANT.  It will pay off.

In addition to the plot sneak peak from the movie, the phenomenal casting forever burned the faces of Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams on my brain as Henry and Clare.  Perfect, perfect, perfect.  These two are so beautiful. 

There is so much cleverness, so much emotion, so much charm packed in one book here, it was almost more than my little heart could take at times.  Towards the end, I did have to pull my car over and sit and get myself under control.  And just when you think things couldn't get any more perfect, in walk the REFERENCES.  Special places around Chicago that really exist.  Music (particularly punk).  Classic literature. They were like little hidden nuggets of flavor.

Now suddenly, I see why all of you out there had such trouble with Niffenegger's second novel "Her Fearful Symmetry" (which I liked alot but didn't love).  Expectations, my word.  It is probably all good that I didn't read this book first.  Now my heart has been claimed.

Just so you think I haven't gone completely soft on you, I do have one tiny slightly negative comment.  The author used two words peppered throughout the story (four letter c-words that describe male and female anatomy) that jarred me when I heard them.  You can scream obscenities at me all day and I don't really care, but in a story so beautiful, these words didn't belong.  I was confused as to why they were used, because it didn't add a single thing to the experience. 

A few words about the audio production:  William Hope (narrating as Henry) and Laurel Lefkow (narrating as Clare) were both new to me, but they embodied their characters.  They had beautiful smooth voices that were genuine and full of emotion.  I loved every second of listening.

6 out of 5 stars (and now on my best ever list)          
 
  

36 comments:

BookQuoter said...

How great is this book? This post says it all. What a wonderful post.

Beth F said...

One of my favorite audiobooks. I listened to this when it first came out and then forced everyone I know to listen too.

bermudaonion said...

Well, I broke the book lover rule and saw the movie and then bought the book. It's been sitting on my shelf ever since. I wish I could hire a maid and assistant so I could read more!

Jenny said...

Wow, 6 out of 5 and on the Best Ever List?? I am one of the few who have not read this book. I have it on my shelf though... guess I should really try to get to it so I can see what you're talking about!

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

WOW! Talk about a raving review :) Also loved it when I read it back in the day. I'm strangely attracted to time-travelling love stories, like Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese in Terminator (not kidding!).

How many stars would you give the movie? Haven't seen it yet.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I loved this book too, and the worst part was, I finished it in an airplane! As we were getting ready to land in Chicago, I was sobbing so hard I could barely breathe! Jim was trying to crawl under the seat and everyone around me thought I knew something awful about the flight! :--)

Heather @ Book Addiction said...

Woo hoo!!! I am pumping my fist in joy because you loved this book so much. It is one of my all time faves as well, I cried buckets the first time I read it and even more buckets when I reread it last year. LOVE.

Jessica said...

Glad you loved it. Me and my brother loved it but my mum hated it and could even finish it lol

raych said...

It made me CRY on the SKYTRAIN. In front of PEOPLE.

So yes, I concur.

farmlanebooks said...

I'm so pleased that you loved this as much as I did. It is in my all-time top ten too. I think you are lucky to have read Her Fearful Symmetry first - expecations can ruin even a good book and poor Niffenegger has set her bar very high. I don't think she'll ever match this one.

Alyce said...

I'm one of those who haven't read it yet. It's still sitting on my shelf. I'm still scared it's not going to live up to the hype. I guess I'll have to make some time to read it when I'm ready for a weep-fest. :)

reviewsbylola said...

I think I need to reread this one because it has been years and the story has kind of slipped from my grasp.

Zibilee said...

We talked a little about this book, but I still maintain that any book that bills itself as this one does and can still appeal to my husband (who is the master of cynical) who absolutely loved it and wanted to talk about if for hours on end is indeed a seriously amazing book. I loved it as well, and the fact that so much of it still remains fresh in my mind is another testament to it's brilliance. I am sort of hesitating to read Her Fearful Symmetry, as I just know it won't be even remotely the same.

Pam (@iwriteinbooks) said...

I’m so glad you finally read this and really loved it. I didn’t expect to like it at all and I adored it, cried over it and I think I may have hugged it when I was done. .

caite said...

gee, I guess I am now the only blogger who has not read this now.
and let me say, 6out of 5 is just not fair.

Ti said...

I did the same thing! I bought it when everyone was oooohing and ahhhing over and it sits on my shelf...waiting for me to pick it up. STILL!

I didn't break the book lover rule though. Movie is still unseen. There's still hope for me yet.

Julie P. said...

I loved this one too! Don't know if it's on my best ever list, but it's definitely a great one. Maybe I should try it again on audio.

Trisha said...

Crap. I've been holding out on reading or watching this for a long time now. Crap. Crap.

Melody said...

Wow, 6 out of 5 stars!!
I watched the movie first, but haven't read the book yet. I guess I need to find the right moment to read it.

JoAnn said...

Clearly my reread needs to be a listen... and I should probably break down and watch the movie, too. Just picked up Her Fearful Symmetry at the library book sale last month. Plan to read it in October. Loved this review, Sandy!

Carrie K. said...

I love this post - now I want to listen again! And those two c-words - they (and the sex scenes) are the reason I can't recommend this, one of my favorite books, to my mom.

Amy said...

This is a fantastic review, Sandy...your comment to readers about trusting the author and storyline is so on-point (and a good argument for not easily giving up on a book)

I read this book first and then I saw the movie but I didn't read the book when it first came out because I felt like it was being super-hyped everywhere I turned. My experience reading extremely popular books isn't good. I expect too much and it rarely works out. When I finally read this book, I thought it was amazing.

Anna said...

I've seen the movie already so I hadn't planned to read the book, but you've made me reconsider.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Welcome to the club! I adored this book. Then a few years later I read it again and I loved it even more. I'm like you, not too much of a romantic, but this one just rises above that cliche. It's definitely the reason why her next book didn't work well for me. How do you top this one?

Jenners said...

You've seen the light!!! I ADORED this book … ADORED it. It left me in tears, and I was amazed at her imagination in coming up and executing the story. And I was very very disappointed with Her Fearful Symmetry after reading this book first. Great review … I'm glad you came at it the way you did so you didn't have the disappointment of the second book being nowhere near as good as this one.

It is one book I always push on people. Love your 6 out of 5 stars!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

This was the book that got me hooked on audios!

Like you, I was worried about the 43-yr-old man/8-yr-old-girl scenario, but there was nothing creepy about it.

I'm glad I went with the audio because I think the premise kept me from picking up the print book (obviously I was WRONG!), the narrators were fantastic, and, I been an audiophile ever since.

Kathleen said...

This has been gathering dust on my shelf also. I need to read it so it can knock me off my cynical ass too!

The Bumbles said...

Exactly - a love story for all time that even a curmudgeon like me blubbered all over.

Teresa said...

I thought that it was a good book, but I didn't place it as high as many others. The concept was really interesting. Just as you said, it was kind of confusing. I was interested in the movie to see how they would handle it and I thought they did a really good job.

I'd not thought to try it on audio...

Jen - Devourer of Books said...

Do you think you would have still followed it well in audio if you hadn't seen the movie? I've heard really good things about the production, but I hesitate to recommend it to people in audio because of all the time jumps.

dogearedcopy said...

A couple of years ago, I started listening to this in audio and, for whatever reason, it didn't grab me. Then I lost the CDs and found I really didn't care if I found them again or not, so I just let it go; but after reading your review I'm thinking of picking it up again, maybe *after* watching the movie (something I rarely do!)

I did want to mention, that I picked up Her Fearful Symmetry and absolutely *loathed* it, absolutely every single thing about it. I only made it 140 pages in before I was tempted to hurl it across the room into the fireplace (but I didn't; but only because it was a library book.) I had no expectations for it, so it wasn't a matter of being disappointed after having experienced TTTW. So yeah, even without TTW, HFS sucked all, by itself :-/

John Braine said...

I knew there'd be a gazillion other comments on this one. So I'm just chiming in with another me too. Adored it. I'm sure it was just as good on paper, but they really nailed it on the audiobook.

I'd highly recommend When God Was a Rabbit too, as I had a similar reaction both... http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/154260907

Teacher/Learner said...

Such a fantastic book. I'm so glad you liked it :)

Melissa said...

I think I've said this to you before, but when I hear about a book I think I will love, I don't want to read it, because I don't want it to be over. This is one of those books. I've had it on my shelf since the day it came out. I know I really should pick it up, but there is something about the anticipation of a book that I just love.

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

Oh, my goodness. SIX out of five stars? I have the book and also delayed on seeing the movie because I felt I needed to read it first. Now, you have given me permission to break the laws of the bookish universe! But do I read it, or listen to it?! AAARGH! Which one?!

Alice Teh said...

6 out of 5?!?! I need to dish this out of my pile, which is currently buried deep, deep down.