Monday, April 04, 2005

The Time Traveller's Wife

We have two new members at Book group tonight and they both seem lovely. It’s good to have new views and opinions represented.

We had all enjoyed reading Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Travellers Wife and it sparked a full hour and 1 half discussion. It’s a startlingly accomplished and original debut novel and I’d highly recommend it.

The basic premise of a relationship between a couple where one party has a genetic disorder that causes them to slip through time (sometimes for a few hours, sometimes a few days) is a clever device that allows a lot of other issues to be explored about life, relationships, connectedness, modern life, fate, free-will and so forth.

Perhaps it’s greatest strength is that it uses the time travel premise as a gentle backdrop, but it does not dominate the larger novel. If anything I would describe this book as an unashamed love story. That said, and not being a fan of your Mills and Boon style genre, it is extremely fresh and rarely cloying.

Inevitably the whole time-travel concept throws up contradictions and problems, which Niffenegger handles better than most. There are a few plot holes and unanswered questions that she ducks a little, but whilst for me these did jar the narrative slightly the recovery was swift.

The biggest issue it seemed to raise for us as a group was about free-will versus fate and the passivity of the ‘wife’. If you could know things about your future from visits from a future-self, or a partner’s future-self, would it be reassuring and something to accept and go along with, or would you fight against the idea that your life is already mapped out. Would you buy the house you ‘know’ you come to live in, would you automatically accept the relationship you ‘know’ you have?

I suspect our varying responses to that say an awful lot about us as individuals.

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