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Last year, I blogged about a friend of mine who was going through a tough time with her significant other, who she suspected was having an affair with a woman at work.

I recall telling her at the time, that whatever choice she made, she’d have to live with it, but I guess it’s much easier to dole out advice, when it’s not happening to you.

As you can probably gather, she decided to stay with him. I thought she was mad as ten badgers, but like I said, it’s easier to give advice when you’re not involved.

Anyway, since that particular episode, ‘Tamara’ and ‘Aidan’ (names have been changed to protect the innocent) have had major problems with their relationship. Problems which generally end up with her coming round to our house for tea and sympathy.

The last time I saw her was a couple of weeks ago, when a mutual friend of ours was having a party to celebrate a new job, and a new life in Dubai.

At the time, I thought something wasn;t quite right with her, but I figured, she’d tell me in her own time.

Anyway, The Tall Guy and I were at B&Q’s yesterday, when we ran into Tamara’s cousin Susan.

We exchanged the usual pleasantries, ‘you look fab, where did you get your hair done, and by the way how hot is your new boyfriend?’ You know, the usual stuff.

Anyway, Susan asks me how Tamara is coping. Of course, I have no idea what she’s talking about, so she tells me.

Apparently, Tamara moved out (with baby) when she discovered that Aidan, had been having an affair with not one, but two women. The Skanky Fucking Arsehole.

She’d discovered his infidelities, when she found a cell phone bill totalling £300 ($525) for the month, and most of the calls had been to two different numbers that she didn’t recognise.

She of course rang up, to find out who the numbers belonged to.

Apparently, the first woman she spoke to asked who the hell she thought she was, to which my friend must have said something like, I’m the mother of his child. Apparently, this ended in some kind of sobbing session. The woman didn’t know that he was already in a relationship.

The second woman answered the phone, and hung up, when Tamara asked who she was.

She then refused to answer Tamara’s follow-up calls. ( Methinks this one knew that Aidan was in a relationship already.)

Anyway, to cut a long story short, Tamara confronted the cheating rat bastard Aidan, and all hell broke loose. She ended up taking the baby, and going to her mother’s house.

That was the last time Susan had spoken to her.

I felt a little depressed that all this stuff had been happening to her, and she obviously felt that she couldn’t talk to me about any of it. I told Susan not to mention that she’d spoken to me, and when I got home, I called her, pretending I was after our friend’s e-mail address.

I asked her how she was doing, and suggested that we should get together for a girl’s night out or something.

She sounded a little morose, but insisted that she was fine. She didn’t mention the affairs at all. I decided not to push it, and we made arrangements for her to come over during the week.

I can’t help but feel a little wounded that she didn’t feel as if she could confide in me, but I actually understand it. She knows how I feel about Aidan, so I guess, she probably didn’t want to have to admit, that I was right all along.

I don’t do, ‘I told you so’s’, when it comes to my friends, and I figure that she should know this by now. I realise that making the decision to leave him was never going to be easy, and I did truly understand why she chose to stay.

Unless you’re involved, it’s hard to predict what you would actually do, under those same circumstances. If it happened to me, I’d like to think I’d set his pubes on fire leave his cheating arse, but to be fair, most women who it hasn’t happened to (as far as we are aware anyway) probably think the same. I know Tamara used to say the same, when it happened to other people she knew.

I want to confront her with what I know, but at the same time, I want it to be her decision as to whether she tells me or not.

To be honest, I don’t know what I’d say to her anyway, but I know that whatever decision she makes, it’s going to impact the baby, one way or another.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if this kind of betrayal didn’t happen? When you have children to think of, why would you want to jeopardise your relationship in such a manner?

My personal thoughts are that Aidan hasn’t loved Tamara in a very long time. She still loves him, but I think that every time, she discovers his lies, it kills off a little part of her that still believes that they can make it.

I don’t think they can last much longer. She may leave him for good this time, but knowing her as I do, I suspect that she’ll go back to him, once her OCD-inclined mother starts driving her up the wall. Discovering that he’s been cheating on her with two women, should, hypothetically speaking, make it easier to leave him, but once again, I don’t think it’s as cut and dried as that.

Oh well, only time will tell, I guess. Sigh…

So I finished reading Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife a couple of days ago. I wanted to write this review right after I finished reading it, but I found that I needed some time to get to grips with the maelstrom of emotions that simply overtook me, after reaching the end of this book.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s a blurb from Amazon:

Henry De Tamble is a librarian who suffers from a genetic disorder that causes him to shift backward and forward through time. Without a moment’s notice, he disappears, leaving behind his clothes and everything else, and arrives naked at another time in his life. Sometimes he even meets a different version of himself.
During one of these migrations, he drops in on beautiful Clare Abshire, and a lifelong passion is born.

The problem is that while Henry’s age darts back and forth according to his location in time, Clare’s moves forward in the normal manner, so the pair are often out of sync

Brought on by moments of stress, he is forever leaving and catapulting naked into an unknown moment of his own past. His visits tend to be back to important events or people in his own life – hence his adult visits to the young Clare, occasionally he returns to a younger self and has repeated painful visits to the scene of the tragic car accident when he was six, that killed his beloved mother.

The Time Traveler’s Wife charts Henry and Clare’s struggles, as they try to lead normal lives, in spite of Henry’s condition, and it illustrates the love that they have for one another, a love that seemed to transcend time and memory.

My Verdict

God, where do I start?

The Time Traveler’s Wife wasn’t an easy book to read. Not even a little bit.

I wasn’t sure what my expectations were for this book. The plot device seemed so fantastic that I just couldn’t help but wonder how far I would have to suspend disbelief, before I could fully engage myself within its depths. As it happens, not far at all.

Niffenegger’s explanation of Henry’s genetic condition, in relation to his penchant for time-travelling was at times complex, and littered with jargon, which most readers would find somewhat confusing, but as a reader, I was able to look beyond that, and see the story for what it really was.

This was a love story. Pure and simple. Not a traditional love story, by any means, but it was a story so powerful, that I don’t believe that there can be one person who read this book, who would have been able to remain untouched by its sheer brilliance, and unflinching, and sometimes tragically gritty realism.

A lot of people will pick this book up, get to page thirty, and put it down. Some may go back to it, or some may simply never read it to its conclusion. I did, and I wasn’t sorry.

The story of The Time Traveler’s Wife was told from two points of views. Henry’s and Clare’s.

As a reader, I was able to empathise with both characters, and understand their motivations, even when they found themselves in situations that would usually cause me to haemorrhage on the spot.

I was able to fully understand the fine line that Henry constantly walked between being an upstanding citizen, and being forced to turn to criminal activities, in order to survive his time travels. I understood his various addictions, from alcohol upwards, and forgave him for them.

Henry and Clare were mostly philosophical about his condition, as long as they had each other, then that was all that mattered. To me, this was one of the most compelling parts of the story. I loved the way Clare was able to hand her heart freely to Henry, never knowing when he would be gone, how long he would be gone for, and whether or not he would be back.

On that note, one of the things I found hardest to come to terms with, in this book, was the periods when Henry’s time travels didn’t take him to Clare. Niffenegger didn’t go into graphic details about the kind of things that Henry experienced during his time travels, but there was one scene in the book when he did time travel to Clare, and he was bleeding and in pain. He then disappeared a few seconds later. Can you believe that as I’m writing this, and remembering some of the scenes in the book that I’m actually crying? Sheesh. I could literally feel the anguish that Clare would have felt. What was happening to him? Was anybody helping him? Was he alive?

I worried constantly over his whereabouts, whenever I wasn’t privy to his point of view. This made for one emotional roller coaster of a ride, I can tell you.

There were a few mysterious and perplexing scenes in the book that were never fully explained. Usually this is something that drives me insane, but somehow seemed to fit the tone of the book, and so I was able to appreciate it for what it was: A story that could be interpreted in a thousand different ways, by a thousand different people.

The secondary characters in this book, were superbly developed, and each of them had their own part to play. I was mostly fascinated with Henry and Clare’s friend, Gomez, who was married to Clare’s best friend.

For some reason, I expected him to be the villain of the piece, but somehow, him and Henry end up being the best of pals, after a slightly inauspicious first meeting.

Gomez’s motives weren’t whiter than white, but I love that Niffenegger took the road less well travelled, and avoided defining him as ‘all good’, or ‘all bad’. As a reader, I was never sure of my feelings about Gomez, which means that he was wonderfully unpredictable.

Some of you, like myself, may find Henry’s Time travelling a tad confusing, but the one thing that I can assure you, is that this doesn’t detract from the growth of the story. I still felt that The Time Traveler’s Wife had a beginning, a middle, and an end, regardless of the constant time shifts. Niffenegger’s sequencing of Henry’s time travel exploits were cohesive, and fairly easy to get to grips with, once you got further into the story.

The time travel scenes that I found most fascinating were the periods that Henry met his future or his past self. It was lovely, if slightly disconcerting, to witness Henry’s brotherly interaction with a later or earlier version of himself.

For me personally, The Time Traveler’s Wife was a unique, and intense reading experience. It was the most original book I’ve read in a long time, and I can’t imagine anybody out there not thoroughly enjoying the experience.

Having said the above, for die hard romance fans, some of the tragic things that occur in this book, may not be easy to swallow. This isn’t a traditional love story, and yes, you will have to forego a happy ending, but the message that love is all that matters is a strong one, and in a way, helps makes up for some of the shattering revelations that are brought to light, later on in the book.

By the time I got to the end, I was crying so hard, my eyes got all puffy, and The Tall Guy, asked me what the matter was, and even now, when I recall certain scenes, I still manage to tear up. One of the reviewers of this book wrote “The Time Traveler’s Wife will break your heart”. I can’t even describe how true that was.
I felt emotionally drained, and I sobbed as if my heart was indeed breaking. Like I said at the beginning of this review, it wasn’t an easy book to read at all.

After reading TTTW, I thought about it for days. I found myself still trying to piece all the bits together, and fervently wishing that things could have been different for Henry and Clare. In spite of the frequent time shifts, the introduction of different versions of the main and secondary characters, and the uncertainty that everything was going to turn out ok, The Time Traveler’s Wife, was a spell-binding story, that whilst not always easy to follow, certainly made up for it, with its emotional depth, richly developed characters, and a wonderfully original plot line.

If you’re able to live without a happy resolution, then I promise, you wont be sorry you read this book.

You can learn a little bit more about Audrey Niffenegger here, and buy The Time Traveler’s Wife here.