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The Time Traveler's Wife Discussion

windandtherain, I hope this is okay. I figure you can add your own questions and thoughts in the comments as well.

I came up with a few questions of my own, along with using some questions I googled. If Lizzi or anyone else would like to add some questions, I'll be happy to edit the main post to add them.

Please feel free to post your reviews of this book as well.

1. What do you think is the significance of the author choosing to call the book 'The Time Traveler's Wife' and not simply 'The Time Traveler'? How do you think this influenced her narrative?

2. There is a lot of questions of free will vs. the future being set in stone?

3. This book was touted as a great love story. Do you agree? Disagree? Discuss your POV on this.

4. There are quite a few 'supporting' characters in the love story. Which of them did you strongly like or dislike? What are your thoughts on the supporting characters?

5. Do you think Henry ended up traveling back in time to see Clare when she was younger because he was drawn to her due to their connection, because she told him he'd already done it, because of a force greater than both of them, or was it just a random coincidence?

6. Discuss the various bits of foreshadowing in the book.

7. Feel free to discuss and ask about whatever aspect of the book you would like to talk about.

Well, I'll start out with my review of the book. I'm going to preface this by saying that I was very curious about this book. I've heard a lot about it recently whereas I hadn't heard of it before. One of the reasons I was extra-curious to read involved the buzz about the author's second book. She was paid a five million dollar advance for the second book, which is extremely rare in the book business (where you're lucky to get a $5000 advance spread out over 4 payments!) So I was curious to see what made her style so special. I went in preparing to like this, but I also went in with a bit more of a critical eye.

Overall, I enjoyed the beginning of the story but there were a lot of things I wasn't impressed with.

I'll start by talking about the things I enjoyed. I thought the love story in the beginning was unique. The idea of Clare knowing from the time she was 6 the man who would become her husband, and the way his visits shaped her childhood, paired with the way her coming into his life helped shape him into the man she would marry was interesting and romantic in a quirky way.

I enjoyed the way the story handled (or didn't handle) the question of free will vs. fatalism. I like that Henry maintained his belief in free will, even while accepting that he couldn't change things that had already happened in the past. It's an interesting philosophical question and I think the author handled it well in a way that wasn't preachy and didn't put a definitive 'this is the way it is' answer to the question.

I thought the book had some very strong emotional points and it did make me cry in certain parts and I always consider that a sign of a well-written book. I enjoyed the side plots more than the romance I'm afraid. The conflicted relationship between Clare and her mother, the relationship between Henry and his father and the way his father eventually started to put the pieces of his life back together were particularly well-done in my eyes.

Also, I really enjoyed the ending. The last two 'days' from Henry's POV and then Clare's were beautifully written. And I liked the circular nature of him appearing to her at the end of her life, a year before his life ends.

Now my dislikes... I wasn't a huge fan of the narrative style. Present tense is always a bit jarring at first for me though I completely understand why she chose this tense. That said, I really felt that there was a lot of unnecessary detail in the story. I didn't need to hear about every single time they slept together. I especially could have done without the language. I didn't need to hear about every single miscarriage, though I can understand why she included it, but 7 miscarriages? That's a bit much to read about. I could have done without entire scenes in some cases. None particularly come to mind, but there were times when I wasn't sure where she was going with the plot and instead the book felt more 'slice of life' which isn't my cup of tea.

I wasn't a fan of the sideplot with Gomez's love for Clare. I had a hard time sympathizing with him, I had a hard time connecting with Charisse, who chose to be second place in a man's life instead of going out to find someone who deserved he rand would put her first.

I was also a bit hit or miss on the love story itself. There were times when it was great and beautiful, and then there were times when I felt that we just didn't go deep enough into what made these two fall in love. I don't know. There was a lot of over-description of the sex, yet not enough description of the chemistry between them. It was almost clinical at times... almost like "they had a cup of coffee and then they had sex." Not very interesting, and not very sexy, imo.

I also felt like the second and third parts just piled on the misery. I devoured the first part, but it was a lot harder to get through the second and third parts because of this. I'm all for drama and angst in fiction, but we have: Henry's mother getting decapitated in the first part of the book and him constantly being forced to re-visit it, Clare getting practically raped in the first part, seven miscarriages, Clare's mother dying, Henry losing both his feet and knowing he is doomed to die, Clare's best friend's husband pursuing her despite the fact that he has children with her best friend and despite the fact that she's married, Henry's ex-girlfriend killing herself right in front of him and partially because of him, Henry dying in one of the most awful ways EVER, him being able to visit their daughter but just missing Clare and not seeing her until she's 82...

And I'm almost positive I didn't list all the tragedies.

For a 'love story,' this book was certainly filled with a lot of maudlin, depressing things. Yes, there was still some hope in there and there was definitely some parts where the characters transcended the tragedies and became stronger for them. But it was just a heavy book. Heavier than I expected when I initially began to read it.

I'll come back to add to discussion of the questions that I didn't answer with my review. And to add more thoughts.

So... what did you think?

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Start Date: June 1st, 2009
End Date: June 30, 2009

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