Friday, February 10, 2006

A Little Time Traveling in Chicago

This is only my fourth winter in Chicago, yet I'm slowly, but surely, learning the intricacies of this fascinating and windy city. My own mini adventures throughout the streets and many diverse neighborhoods of Chicago helped me become more familiarized with the city, but one book in particular truly made me feel at home. (No, I'm not talking about some cheesey guide book that goes on and on about the former sites of gangster show downs or speakeasy's, athough, yes, I have read one of those. It was a little slip, ok???) Actually, it was a work of fiction.
While I tend to be slightly dubious of modern writing, or at least more critical, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is utterly captivating. The writing is beautiful, and Niffenegger truly has a distinctive voice - one that is exuberant, sensual and bittersweet.
Now, to get to the plot of the book... (If you haven't noticed already, I have the unfortunate tendency to ramble.)
The Time Traveler's Wife tells the story of Henry and Claire - two star-crossed, time-crossed rather, lovers. This love story is, pardon my lack of eloquence, freakin' amazing. It's both passionate, yet heartbreaking, soulful yet troubled... it's everything life is all rolled up into one unbelievable relationship. We follow their relationship through time, in all directions. As the title suggests, Claire is Henry's wife, and Henry is, in fact, a time traveler, only unlike the science fiction movies that glorify time traveling, Henry's is out of his control, displacing him in random times, leaving him without clothing and putting him in harm's way each time he "jumps." However, the time traveling adds an incredibly interesting twist to Claire and Henry's relationship and makes us question whether fate exists, and if so, if free will is subsequently irrelevant.
Now you might be thinking, "Time traveling, that could get confusing," and, yes, it can, but Niffenegger narrates the story so well that your confusion will remain at a minimum, if not at a totally non-existent, level. Trust me, it's good. She's good, the book's good, it's all good. But anyway...
The supporting characters are also flawlessly written. You'll find them just as intriguing as Henry and Claire themselves, and the way in which all the various characters lives intertwine is spectacular, yet startingly realistic... despite the whole time traveling bit.
The Time Traveler's Wife touches on all the major themes in life: family, the concept of time, life, death and, of course, love. This book covers everything and does so flawlessly. It divides its time between Chicago and Michigan, and the Chicago references make both Chicago natives and new residents feel right at home. The entire time I was reading this book, I kept thinking, "Oh my gosh, I love that place!" But the Chicago references, while fabulous, only contribute to the overall greatness that is The Time Traveler's Wife. This book is a tremendous read and a tremendous success. Even as a full-fledged card carrying member of the "I Only Read Post 1975 Literature" club, I absolutely adore this book and firmly believe that anybody who reads this will as well. Trust me, you will never look at life, love and fate in the same way as you did before.
Happy reading.


At 10:52 PM, Blogger Kate said...

Exciting! I'm still finishing up your last recommendations =) "The Master and Margarita" is amazing. Thanks!


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