Escape Velocity

A curated Collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction Media

The first time Henry meets his future wife Clare, he is 28 and Clare is 20. But for Clare, this is not their first meeting at all: she has known Henry since she was six, when he appeared out of nowhere in a meadow behind her house. Henry suffers from a rare genetic condition which causes him to spontaneously and involuntarily travel backwards or forwards in time. As their relationship progresses, both Henry and Clare have to deal with the consequences of Henry’s condition.


This book is often classified as sci-fi because it involves time travel, but I think this might set the wrong expectations for it. Except for a few far-fetched experiments on mice it does not involve a lot of science, and it only considers the consequences of Henry’s condition on Henry’s life and on that of those around him. It does not go into the consequences of his condition for the world in general. The Time Traveller’s Wife is primarily a story about a relationship, just one where everything happens completely out of order. 


I am a little conflicted about this book. On the one hand, it is an interesting and original premise that is well worked-out. The book is written in a style that is engaging and easy to read, and even though it jumps back and forth a lot between different moments in time, it never becomes confusing. On the other hand, at times it seemed like ‘being in love with Henry’ is pretty much the main reason for Clare’s existence, except for the period when ‘wanting to have a child with Henry’ is the main reason. Despite this I somehow still found myself quite liking her as a character, which is a testament to Niffenegger’s skill as a writer. As for Henry, while everyone who knows him (including his own father) seems to think he is bad news, he becomes pretty much the perfect boyfriend as soon as he meets Clare. This makes the whole ‘bad boy’ vibe that the author seems to want to give him a little unbelievable.


Despite its flaws, I think I would still recommend giving this book a go if you enjoy stories where romance is a large part of what drives the narrative. The world and atmosphere that the book creates is captivating enough that it stayed with me during the days when I was reading the book, as well as several days after I had finished it. It also does not shy away from becoming quite dark at times, which keeps it from becoming all too sappy. 

See also:

Share this post: