I ran out of new books to read a couple of weeks ago, and when that happens I tend to turn back to books I've already read that I loved and want to revisit. So I did.
My favorite book is The Time Traveler's Wife.
Ever since I read this book for the first time a couple of years ago I was hooked. There's just something (well, many things) about it that creates a pull in me and I can't get enough. It's the type of book that's comforting and confusing and easy to relate to.....in short, it reminds me of my life.
First, I love that it's set in Chicago. But Chicago isn't just a backdrop- it's a part of the story in a real way- almost like another character. Henry and Clare (the two main characters, if you haven't read The Time Traveler's Wife) spend time in many of my favorite places and I get a rush of excitement every time a place (like the Art Institute, the Artist's Cafe, Boys Town, Berlin) is mentioned. I fill up with some good ol' hometown pride that allows me to connect on that level with this novel. Not only because I love Chicago and share that love with the characters, but we enjoy doing the same activities in the same places, like old friends.
The relationship between Clare and Henry is one of my favorite novel romances that I've ever read. Niffenegger's writing and description creates such realistic portraits of these two characters that I can't help but feel for them and become attached to them. It's a wildly unique situation they are in and I am fascinated by it. I am also a little bit in awe of the love that they share. Again, through Niffenegger's writing, the love between Clare and Henry feels completely honest and even raw at times. They are a genuine couple for better or for worse and it's evident that these two are meant to be together. I'm very drawn to their story, the way they make their relationship work and the trials and tribulations they must endure to survive. The other thing I love about them as a couple is that they have an age difference between them. It's not two people of same or similar age who happen to meet. Henry is eight years older than Clare but the age difference is never a problem between them. As someone who tends to date men who are older than her (age differences have ranged from four to nine-and-a-half years), I understand the dynamic of how a relationship like that works. I love that Niffenegger chose to create a main couple who come from different worlds and can make it work out so wonderfully. Not without problems, obviously, but they figure it out and it's touching.
Another glorious part of The Time Traveler's Wife is the way it's written. Niffenegger goes in somewhat chronological order- as much as can be allowed with Henry's time travelling- switching between Henry and Clare's point of views. I think it's very clever to see both of their sides on various situations and occurrences because it offers the reader a fully rounded view of their world. It also shows off the nuances between them and how they generally agree on matters but tend to get their in different ways. I love the see Clare and Henry's personalities come out, and Niffenegger has a clear vision of each. Because we see each equally, I think it makes them stronger as a whole. Also, through the story telling, I never have a problem suspending my belief in the fact that Henry time travels. Clearly, this could've easily created a huge problem with the story if me (or any reader) had serious reservations about accepting this fact. However, the way Niffenegger weaves it into the story and reveals the details, I just take it as a part of Henry and feel that it just adds interest and another level to his character. It never seems totally out of place in the story as a whole, and it flows rather seamlessly through Clare and Henry's life. Of course, it creates problems for them and is sometimes cause for tension, but I think because they so readily accept this as truth, it's easy for the reader to do the same.
It's just a wonderfully, romantic and touching story of two otherwise unimportant people who have a really amazing story to tell. If you haven't I definitely recommend reading it. Even if you don't agree with me, you can at least compare notes and form your own opinions of The Time Traveler's Wife.
(p.s. I did see the movie as well. I enjoyed it although I wish they hadn't cut out so, so much of the novel.)