So though I thought the ending was quite good, I had some issues with certain aspects of this book. All in all I saw love as a dangerous thing to be in since it seems to not work out for anyone that is in “love” in this one. And the first part of the book takes a while to get going. It helps that Audrey Niffenegger takes the time to include headers that show the date and age of Henry and Clare so you can keep things straight. A very strong three stars.
We have a young girl Clare who is 6 that meets a 40 year old man named Henry. Henry is naked and tells Clare that he is a time traveler. He will see her repeatedly while she is growing up and without Clare realizing it, she’s met the man she will one day marry. The book then follows Clare and Henry through the years until they finally meet up in her present and then walks through their marriage and the difficulties with Henry time traveling. The book speaks of loneliness throughout and even when Clare is near Henry, she’s constantly bracing herself for him to leave at any moment.
Clare was a bit hard to take once some things are revealed. No spoilers, but she’s a terrible friend. She loves Henry and that’s all she cares about. She doesn’t worry about the issues they will have with him time traveling. She loves him and is going to be with him no matter what. Though Clare’s art is important to her, it often feels secondary to her love of Henry and her inability to say no to him. Why Clare tells certain people about Henry’s time travel baffles me too. I would have thought she was a liar and stayed away from her.
Henry is pretty much a jerk I thought. He is rude and sarcastic though he loves Clare. He ends up becoming enmeshed in her life and becomes friends with her friends though one wonders why when he realizes what is going on with the character of Gomez. We hear about Henry’s love of books, but I was pretty shocked that he barely seems to read. I guess if one is time traveling, you are just focused on not being killed when you pop up naked with no money or clothing. He and his father don’t have a relationship since his father is still mourning his dead mother and has no love left to give Henry. Henry seems obsessive about sex with Clare (and she does about him too) that one wonders if these two ever had conversations after they meet in the present day.
The secondary characters have their own tales of love which doesn’t speak too highly of it we have lost love (Henry’s father and the character of Kimy), broken hearts (Clare’s mother), obsessive love (Gomez) and unrequited love (Charisse and Ingrid). This whole book screams out that love that is not painful is not worth having.
The writing at times is lovely and others just choppy. I think once we get past a certain time period (no spoilers) we are just waiting for the inevitable to happen. The flow isn’t that great to start with either. I think some things could have been cut, but that’s just me.
The setting of the book moves from the 1960s to the year 2050 something. I can’t recall right now. We have Clare and Henry mostly in Illinois though she is born and raised in Michigan with Henry of course doing pop by’s here and there.
The ending though was sad, but it moved me. I don’t know if I could wait, but we get to see a future Clare and wonder how her life unfolded.