Monday, June 2, 2008

Time Traveler's Wife

I originally read this about five years ago when it was a super popular best seller and absolutely loved it. I recall recommending it freely, only to be chagrined later on with the realization that the book is really not intended for the sensitive reader. With my first reading, Niffenegger managed to "smoke and mirror" her way around the book's frequent crude language and descriptive love scenes because Time Traveler's plot was so incredibly original.

After attempting a discussion with a friend who very recently read it, I realized most of my memory of the book was too faded for a legitimate conversation. I picked up the enormous hardbound copy at the library and quickly found myself escaping in the tricky time traveling romance and doomed love story once again. It really is such a fantastic idea and when I finished, I found myself still scratching my head in wonder about how Niffenegger got the idea for this book in the first place, and feeling slightly overwhelmed by its desperate ending.

The smoke and mirrors weren't as effective the second time around, however, as I felt more offended by the crude language used by both Clare and Henry. I'm not a prude who regards all language as inappropriate, and think sometimes the character's background or emotional outburst warrants the feeling such language manages to evoke. But it felt really unnecessary most of the time. Clare and Henry are both such smart characters, so capable of better verbs and adjectives. Additionally, neither seems particularly rash or impetuous - so their casual dropping of vulgar words only seemed...vulgar.

If you care about those things, you probably won't enjoy this book. If you can justify looking past it to read a story unlike anything you've ever read, you might just love this book. I did.

1 comment:

Amy Sorensen said...

I think you've hit on the key: being able to look past the swearing and the sex in order to enjoy the story. It frustrates me that so many people aren't able to do this, and then end up missing so many good stories. Twice now I've been in book club discussions about this, inspired by TT'sW. I've wondered if my inability to be bothered by swearing or intimacy in a novel makes me a bad Mormon? I don't know. I guess though that for me, unless it's obviously pornographic, it is OK to just overlook it and read for the story.