I tried to read this book about a year ago, and just could not get past the first few chapters. I found the structure very difficult to navigate, and ended giving up not far into the story. It just didn’t pull me in even though the concept was quite interesting. When the movie came on during a recent flight, I decided to watch it because I like Eric Bana and I love Rachel McAdams, especially her role in The Notebook – an all-time favorite love story (book and movie both).
I won’t mince words. I was disappointed with The Time Traveler’s Wife. A very wise person once told me that in any fantasy world or any story that is based on fantastical elements, you must have structure and rules around and within it, enough so that the reader/viewer can sink into the world and trust it if that’s the right word. If you don’t, then you lose credibility with the reader. It doesn’t matter if the world is set on some fictional planet, if the rules are clear, then the reader will be drawn into the story and it becomes real.
That said, that was what was missing for me in The Time Traveler’s Wife. I just didn’t feel that the rules were clear. Why did he time travel? Was it caused by stress? Drink? TVs, I think at one point? How were those linked? Why were some periods longer and others not? There was some mention of genetics but no conclusive answers to Henry’s predicament. Also why did Clare fall in love with him? What drew her? Why did she stay with him when it must have been incredibly lonely? When he get s vasectomy, why does she cheat on him with a younger version of himself to get pregnant? How/why does the baby time travel? Where does it go? How does she manage to make it 9 months? How was it possible for Henry to come back after his death? How/why was his daughter able to control it? Was there something powerful about singing related to controlling the traveling? Too many questions – and not enough answers or resolution.
I also didn’t connect with any of the characters. In fact, the first time I felt any sort of connection was the first glimpse of their daughter when she saw them walking past her. Henry and Clare felt a bit bland to me, I just didn’t get the sense that there was any real relationship between them. And while there was some juxtaposition with a couple friends/family in the mix, it seemed very contrived – they felt too much like “extras.”
There were so many good possibilities with this film, especially with its messages – perhaps being able to fall in love with someone at different times in their life. Or maybe staying with someone through thick and thin. But overall, it just fell flat for me. If you compare this love story to The Notebook, it’s obvious that the hard-hitting message is missing. There’s no deep connection, no answers to the WHY (in fact, many, many whys), which just leaves you hanging and unsatisfied.
I would rate The Time Traveler’s Wife 2 out of 5 stars.