“The Time Traveler’s Wife” brings a classic romance story to life


Sharon Xu

Janina Akporavbare (‘22) reading her favorite book: The Time Traveler’s Wife

I have always been a romance movie enthusiast. I love happy endings where the guy gets the girl and even the sappy, cringe-worthy scenes. I am, without a doubt, a hopeless romantic. Yet even with my love of romantic movies, I’ve never read a romance novel. I’ve read dystopian fiction books that feature romantic themes, but I’ve never read a book that was pure romance. Amidst the frenzy of school, I decided to take on The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

The Time Traveler’s Wife is written from two perspectives: Henry DeTamble, the time traveler, and Clare Abshire, his wife. The story alternates between their two points of view throughout the book. Each time the perspective changes, the date, time, and characters ages are written at the beginning of the section. The book is set in a three-part series, all contained in one novel. 

Henry has a genetic disease called chrono-impairment, which means that he can time travel involuntarily without a moment’s notice. The author does not represent time travel as a magical thing, but rather as a legitimate problem in Henry’s life. The Time Traveler’s Wife is the only book that I’ve read where something as intangible as time travel is shown in such a human way. 

Henry and Clare’s love story begins when Henry is 28 and Clare is 20. The twist is that Clare has known Henry since she was six, but Henry has never met Clare. An older version of Henry travels back to the past where he meets six-year-old Clare in a meadow by her house. Over the course of Clare’s life, Henry travels to see her many times, and she grows up around him. 

The first time they meet in the present time, Henry works as a librarian and Clare is an artist. They both live typical, middle-class lives in small apartments while working their day-to-day jobs. They start dating, and Clare’s childhood dream of meeting Henry in the present-day finally comes true. 

Sometimes, the drama wanes and the story can be boring for a few pages. The Time Traveler’s Wife is mostly about Henry and Clare’s relationship and their lives, so some parts are not as interesting to read. However, the author does manage to continually build the plot, and while there are semi-boring sections, a good majority of the book is filled with action and romance. 

Henry and Clare’s relationship is planned from the start. They know they are destined to be together. The book continually states that the future is already planned and what is going to happen will happen. There is something very soothing about reading the story of such a structured relationship when we ourselves have such little control over our own lives.

The book also closely mirrors a real-life relationship and the problems couples face. Clare and Henry aren’t always happy. In the book, their relationship goes through a bad patch when they try to have a child, because Clare has constant miscarriages as Henry’s chrono-impairment has been passed on to the baby. When the baby travels through time, it leads Clare to suffer from a miscarriage. 

Clare also feels left behind as Henry is constantly flashing in and out of her life. Their relationship faces all the problems that young couples face, but their problems are multiplied because of Henry’s inopportune time traveling. The author doesn’t make Henry and Clare’s relationship perfect and glamourous and leaves the message that no relationship is perfect even if the two people are soulmates. But in the end, as with any romance novel, love conquers all. 

Overall, The Time Traveler’s Wife is a classic romance novel. While some parts of the story are monotonous, the plot is filled with action and keeps the reader hooked. The cheesy romantic sections conveyed that warm feeling anyone reading a romance novel looks forward to. The narration in the novel makes it easy to imagine every scene and each feeling as the characters develop. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the romance genre.


Writing – 5 out of 5 stars

Story – 4 out of 5 stars

Characters – 5 out of 5 stars

Enjoyment – 4.5 out of 5 stars