Heather (of Heather’s Reading Hideaway) and I recently buddy-read The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. After messaging one another to say that we had each completed the book, this happened:
H: Hmm not sure how I feel about the ending or the last quarter of the book at all.
E: It got weird right?
E: The more I’m thinking about it, the more issues I’m having with it.
H: Yeah same. It seemed messy at the end. Like you’d think such an intricate plot would have a good ending.
Even though this book wasn’t a huge hit for either of us, we are so excited to FINALLY have the second installment of H & E Bookish Chats!
But first, if you missed either of our reviews for The Time Traveler’s Wife, feel free to check them out by clicking below:
Heather and I pulled ten questions from a book group discussion to discuss below. When answering these questions, we went quite in depth. If you don’t want the book spoiled, I recommend sticking to our reviews.
Each of us have posted five of the questions, so at the end of this post, I will leave the link so you can continue reading over at her blog.
Now, let’s jump into the chat!
Our Thoughts On The Time Traveler’s Wife
Q. In The Time Traveler’s Wife, the characters meet each other at various times during their lifetime. How does the author keep all the timelines in order and “on time”?
E: I did like how the author organized the overall timeline. It was interesting to see things play out as the story continued on. There were a few instances where, as a reader, I was questioning something, but because the characters couldn’t talk about what hadn’t happened yet in their own timelines, it made it a bit mysterious. It was also clear that something big was going to happen, and it all kind of counted down until that event.
H: I think the author did a really good job with laying out the timeline without it being too confusing. While reading I felt a little pressured to try to keep the timeline straight in my head but you really didn’t have to because it unfolds naturally and things easily click into place. I agree with Erica that one of the best parts of the jumbled timeline was the mysteriousness of the unknown when it came to the future of the story! Something would be mentioned and the reader is left with more questions and it’s fun to have those questions answers as the story continues. I think the best way to read this book is to trust that the author will make everything make sense by the end and not stress (like I did) with flipping back and forth to remember dates and trying to keep everything in order.
Q. How does their desire for a child affect their relationship?
E: It certainly brought out some negativity! This whole section didn’t work for me. It felt emotionally cold. And for a couple that was so open with one another, there was one specific scene that really upset me.
H: I agree. I think the character’s had stopped loving each other at some point, and stayed together because they knew they were together in the future. I don’t like the way the idea of adoption was handled at all (calling it “cheating” is awful) and honestly it was probably a better choice when it came to Clare’s safety. If a woman in a not time travel position couldn’t have kids and every time she got pregnant her health was on the line it would make sense that the husband would maybe want to pull the plug on trying to have a biological child. I understand Clare was frustrated and disappointed because if she was with anyone else maybe she could have had a kid. It made me feel odd about it as a whole, almost like Clare was forced to be with Henry in the end because he told her they were together in the future. It makes me wonder if maybe he never told her when she was young that they were married in the future if she would still pursue him. Or would she date other people? We know she tries after she turns 18 and dates others but doesn’t give the men she dates an real shot. If she didn’t know her future, would she have married someone else? I don’t like the idea that they were fated to be together and Clare had zero choice in the end.
E: Oh my gosh, I’m pretty sure I growled when that “cheating” comment was made! There were many things this author threw in that royally pissed me off. That definitely being the top one! She also threw in scenes and certain words that were totally unnecessary…
H: Yeah some of the language was problematic. This book was published in 2003! Even in early 2000’s some of the language would have been considered problematic so there aren’t any excuses. I think if this was the only problem I could brush it off but it just seems like an extra layer of issues that keep piling up.
Q. The book is told from both Henry and Clare’s perspectives. What does this add to the story?
E: Unfortunately for me, the varying perspectives didn’t work super well. The tones were too similar for my taste and more than a few times, I forgot which perspective we were focusing on if there weren’t names readily available. Though I am glad that the author had the varying perspectives. I think it would have been rough without being able to see the two sides of the story.
H: I do agree that both perspectives sounded too similar when it came to their voices. I would often have to glance or flip back to see who I was reading. But it was definitely important to have both of their POVs, I just wish their voices were a bit more clear and separate.
Q. Do you think the ending of the novel is satisfactory?
E: Not even a little bit. The end got really messy and there were so many loose ends. For how organized Henry said he was in preparing for the end, I wish we had seen some of that play out.
H: I don’t think the ending was satisfactory at all. I think one of the reasons is because I didn’t feel emotionally connected to any of the characters. The reader isn’t shown the character’s emotions when they’re going through life and hard times. The book mostly tells us what is happening opposed to showing us. Which made me feel distanced from everything. So when everything happened at the end, I didn’t feel much emotion other than frustrated by the way things went down.
Q. Though history there have been dozens of mediums used for time travel in literature. Please cite examples and compare The Time Traveler’s Wife to the ones with which you are familiar.
H: I can’t remember specifically stories that have or revolve around time travel but one thing I know I prefer is when the future is determined by actions and choices versus fate.
E: I’m struggling to think of books about time travel that I enjoyed after this one. I’m sure I’ve read plenty! But I’d definitely agree, I would prefer stories where certain actions affect the timeline like in Harry Potter or Back to the Future.
You have now concluded my side of this chat, click here to continue on over at Heather’s Reading Hideaway! And to check out what we read for our first installment of this project, click here!