The Time Traveler’s Wife

The Time Traveler's WifeThe Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the kind of book that inevitably touches on all kinds of existential questions, the meaning of time, and the nature of love. Told alternately through their own eyes, they occasionally come across as extremely self-absorbed and perhaps even shallow characters, but part of that is just the lens through which we are viewing these characters. I did not find the jogging back and forth in time to be confusing. What was chronological for Clare, was not for Henry and vice versa. I was tempted to go back and try and read the segments chronologically for Henry. Although I put the book down for several months somewhere in the middle, I was able to go back to it and pick it up without rereading. So maybe that says something, too, about the nature of time as it is experienced through the book. I liked the side characters perhaps more than Henry and Clare. Alba seemed more mature than either of her parents. I’m not sure Clare ever really grew up. She seems a bit frozen in time, while Henry is in and out of her life.

Description: A most untraditional love story, this is the celebrated tale of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who involuntarily travels through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare’s passionate affair endures across a sea of time and captures them in an impossibly romantic trap that tests the strength of fate and basks in the bonds of love.

Her Fearful Symmetry

Her Fearful SymmetryHer Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There’s a lot to like in this book: interesting ideas, quirky characters, atmospheric setting, lovely descriptions. I particularly loved Martin and his wife, and cheering on his efforts to overcome his OCD. But I had to work too hard at suspending my disbelief in the mechanics of the plot, and the motivations/choices of some of the characters. Still, there was a certain fascination with the creepiness of some of the relationships.

Julia and Valentina Poole are twenty-year-old sisters with an intense attachment to each other. One morning the mailman delivers a thick envelope to their house in the suburbs of Chicago. Their English aunt Elspeth Noblin has died of cancer and left them her London apartment. There are two conditions for this inheritance: that they live in the flat for a year before they sell it and that their parents not enter it. Julia and Valentina are twins. So were the girls’ aunt Elspeth and their mother, Edie.

The girls move to Elspeth’s flat, which borders the vast Highgate Cemetery, where Christina Rossetti, George Eliot, Stella Gibbons, and other luminaries are buried. Julia and Valentina become involved with their living neighbors: Martin, a composer of crossword puzzles who suffers from crippling OCD, and Robert, Elspeth’s elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. They also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including—perhaps—their aunt.