Okay, a full disclosure is absolutely necessary before we even get started with this review. Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife is my favorite book. Ever. Of all the books that I’ve ever held in my hands, of all the books that I’ve ever carted around in my bag, of all the books that I’ve ever dashed notes and exclamation points in the margins, of all the books whose pages have ever become dotted and stained as my tears rained down, this is at the very top of the list. Now that my opening statement is out of the way, let me tell you about this beloved book.
Yes, this is that book that you’ve probably heard about– the main character, Henry DeTamble, time travels, not of his own accord, and the book chronicles his love story with Clare Abshire, who meets him for the first time when she is only a child, and their lives and love remain entwined in a way that transcends the normal arc of time. Sound odd? I thought so when I first heard about the book, and not being a science-fiction kind of reader I wasn’t immediately intrigued. Yet, when I read the book for the first time (of three times… for now), the time traveling aspect just seemed to work, and te concept fit into the story much more naturally than I expected. Above all else, the love shared between Henry and Clare never ceases to amaze me, and even while their time line of experiences is never simply linear, their relationship still goes through the normal developmental stages that are so easy to relate to. Through joys and heartaches, their love and devotion is steadfast. The depth of emotions demonstrated in this book is inexplicable. I’ve never felt so affected by a story before, and with each reading, the intensity of these emotions only increases. Honestly, I cannot emphasize enough the praise I have for this novel.
I’ve known for years that the book had been optioned as a film, but the post-production process dragged on and on, and I periodically checked it’s IMDB listing every few months to see if there were any updates. Once I finally saw August 14, 2009, actually on the screen, my nervousness began. I’m not an easy person to please when it comes to movie adaptations of books I adore, I know that. And this one just seemed too complex, too expansive, to ever do it full justice on the screen. After seeing it this past weekend, I feel that my worries weren’t exactly fulfilled, but my predictions were spot-on. On its own, this is an engaging and dramatic film, true to the basic shell of the novel, with some characters more fitting than others, in my opinion. The love between Henry and Clare is palpable throughout the movie, and it was not portrayed in the cheesy way that I feared after first seeing the trailer. Based on the ‘crying headache’ that I had for the day following our viewing, I can say that this film tugs at your emotions and pulls you into a deep and unique love story, for sure.
But. It’s not the book. The book has a depth that simply cannot be translated fully in 1.5 hours, and in the interest of time, the film absolutely spoon-feeds the audience some of the more complex and thoughtful themes of the book, and I found that I wasn’t compelled to think too deeply while viewing the movie, whereas the novel had me contemplating concepts and emotions for days and days and days. So, there you have it. If you’re interested in the story, pick up Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, and see the movie for a simplified second helping.
Seeing as it’s my all-time favorite book, you won’t be surprised to know that I’ve included it on our list of 5 Star Reads.
For even more blabbering from Dawn about this flick, along with ridiculously silly movie theater photos, check out her even longer post at her blog, my thoughts exactly.