"Audrey Niffenegger's dazzling debut is the story of Clare, a beautiful, strong-minded art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: his genetic clock randomly resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous and unpredictable, and lend a spectacular urgency to Clare and Henry's unconventional love story. That their attempt to live normal lives together is threatened by something they can neither prevent nor control makes their story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable."
I have to confess, I've not read as much of this book as I would like, mainly because I read it about six years ago, just before the film came out - I consumed it within five days and hated the movie (with some distance between the movie and book, I can appreciate thatthe movie isn't all bad, it's just not as good as the novel #aintitalwaystheway)! This time around, life has been a little busy lately, so I've not read as much as I would have liked, but I'm gonna give some questions a go anyway - and anyone that still hasn't read this book, go read it... now!
Although Henry does the time travelling, Clare is equally impacted. How does she cope with his journeys and does she ultimately accept them?
Because Clare has only ever known Henry as the time traveller he is, she has no choice but to accept it; I think it's easier for her to accept as a child though because Henry is this exciting man who tells her stories when he visits, but once they 'meet' in the library, and they fall in love, she finds the reality of what Henry has been telling her since she was a girl harder to take. I don't blame her; I hate it when my husband goes away with work or Scouts, but at least I know when he's going to go and how long he'll be gone for. I feel so sorry for Clare; I think she eventually comes to make the most of her time when Henry is away, but I think that's why she craves a baby so much - she wants some control, some sense of normalcy and I think that she thinks a baby will give her that.
Henry and Clare know each other for years before they fall in love as adults. How does Clare cope with the knowledge that at a young age she knows that Henry is the man she will eventually marry?
I think she copes pretty well; she just accepts it as true, never once questions that there could be an alternative man out there for her. I think that shows that Clare loved Henry long before he met her, but it's quite sad that the Henry she meets as a teenager/young adult isn't the Henry she knew as a girl and he's not the Henry she loves - she loves the man Henry has yet to become, the man she makes him, which poses one of those awkward, unanswerable time travel questions: would he be the man she loves without her but would she have tried so hard to make their relationship work if he hadn't visited her from the future when she was a girl?!
How does their desire for a child affect their relationship?
Like I said, I think Clare craves a baby so much because she wants someone who will always be there for her, someone who won't just disappear at the drop of a hat, for god knows how long. I did enjoy the fact that it was a past, time travelling Henry, that gets her pregnant the final time, but boy did I sob as they lost all their babies - what a heartbreaking thing to have to endure!
Do you think the ending of the novel is satisfactory?
I actually LOVE the novel's ending and was so upset when I watched the movie and saw that they'd changed it (I hate it when movies do that *cough My Sister's Keeper cough*). I love that Clare waits for Henry and that it's he who comes to 'collect' her soul, that seeing him one last time allows Clare to give in to old age and pass away peacefully in the company of the man she loves, the only man she's ever loved... and now I'm crying!