Sunday, April 15, 2007

BBB Tour: The Time Traveller's Wife

I am only an occasional blogger, almost exclusively for the purpose of these online book tours that Melissa arranges. At first, I think I was invited to participate because Mel was afraid there wouldn’t be very many people participating – and since we live together and are related by marriage I don’t have much choice. In truth, given the overwhelming response to these book tours, I am humbled that Mel still invites my participation. More than that I am psyched because I really dug this book. It has that perfect storm of commercial appeal, Henry is a great character, the kind of guy you’d love to have as a friend and he just so happens to mirror my own tastes in music. So guys can appreciate him. Plus it has all those emotions that go with a great love story thrown-in, so women have something in it for them too. I think Brad Pitt bought the film rights when he was married to Jennifer Anniston -- I think he won them in the divorce. It'll be interesting to see how they traverse that tension between chick-flick and sci-fi. With those preliminaries out of the way, let’s get to the questions…

3. On page 346, Henry says: "Seeing Clare with a baby in her arms, the reality of our miscarriages grabs me and for a moment I feel nauseous...The feeling retreats and I am left with the actuality of what we've been doing: we have been losing children. Where are they, these lost children, wandering, hovering around confused?" Have you ever had a similar experience, wherein you come to a sudden realization of the weight of infertility and/or pregnancy loss?

Uh yeah. I think this a very male reaction and it certainly was mine through a large chunk of our IF journey. On the path to parenthood, most things are abstractions for us guys. We don’t change with pregnancy. We’re remarkably out of touch with our own bodies (probably from childhoods filled with the refrain of “playing hurt”). Pregnancy is an abstraction until well-into the process – ask and I think most guys would say it didn’t feel real until they felt kicking. And some guys aren’t clued-into reality until they’re cutting an umbilical cord. So grasping pregnancy loss is an abstraction of an abstraction for guys. Henry’s realization is just the kind of ah-hah moment that can make pregnancy loss concrete for a guy.

5. How does Henry's time travel and/or Clare's experience with Henry's time travel serve as a metaphor for infertility?

I actually hadn’t thought of this while reading the book. I guess I thought of the IF as more of a clever plot twist that helps deepen the characters. However, now that you mention it, I guess IF is a kind of chrono-displacement: you’re constantly projecting yourselves into possible futures, branching outcomes, questioning cause and effect, wanting to know how it will turn out. And the there’s the waiting… boy. I’m dumb.

10. If you read the book without knowing about the pregnancy/miscarriage aspect of the storyline, how did you feel when you got to that part of the story? If you were unprepared for that aspect of the storyline, did you find it particularly jarring or upsetting? Or, if you read the book already knowing about this storyline, do you think that changed how you reacted to it? Did you find the pregnancy/miscarriage aspect made you relate to the characters more?

I was totally unprepared when the book took that turn. I have to admit, it was one of those exhilarating and terrifying moments that you can have while reading a novel – a moment when you go from reading a book to seeing your own experiences reflected back at you through the prism of fiction. Exhilarating, because those moments of connection are extremely rare, especially when its with people who don’t actually exist. And terrifying because it can bring up all sorts of emotions that were perhaps put on a shelf – say the reality of pregnancy loss (see above).

11. The book ends in 2053, when Claire is 82 years old. Prior to the ending, we are left in the year 2008. Were you satisfied with the ending of the story? What do you think happened to Alba, particularly with her time traveling? In those 45 years, do you think they found a "cure" to the "involuntary" aspect of the time traveling?

As Mama Rose says in Gyspy, “Always leave ‘em wanting more.” Alba deserves her own story, but Henry and Claire’s was done. To have written more would have been to overstay the author’s welcome. That said, my favorite novels always have you wondering what happens to the characters. They become like real people, and the realest thing about them is that we believe that they have a future beyond the pages we read. Oh, any chance there any IF themes in the novels of Jasper Fforde.

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein.


Starfish said...

Interesting to get the male point of view. I think my husband would agree with you on when reality sets in. I didn't love the book, but it's interesting to see what others got out of it.

Samantha said...

Thanks for sharing the male point of view. It does seem like with my husband, his feelings on infertility are never incremental, unlike mine. He'll be thinking about in an abstract and distant fashion, and then it seems to come crashing down. I guess that comes from not dealing with the physical reality of it during the cycles in the same way.

Sunny said...

Oh you did such a great job answering the questions. You helped me see things through my husband's eyes. I think he would enjoy this book too, if only I could get him to read fiction instead of non-fiction. :)

Thanks for sharing!

Jessica said...

I hadn't thought of how Henry or Clare's time travel experiences related to infertility either. Well, I see it more from Clare's point of view with the waiting, but had a harder time with Henry's POV.
Great answers!

Bea said...

I'm going to go with previous posters in flagging the male point of view. Not that the rest wasn't interesting (I didn't think of the time travel/IF metaphor either, til I read the question) but the male point of view is sometimes hard to come by, even when one lives with a bona-fide male.

It will be interesting to see what they do with the movie. And you're right - although dying to know what happened to Alba, there was no place for that tale in this book.


Drowned Girl said...

I "got" the IF/miscarriage link right away. Clare couldn't hang onto Henry, and she couldn't hang on to his baby, but oh how she wanted a little bit of him that would always be there.

“My body wanted a baby. I felt empty and I wanted to be full. I wanted someone to love who would stay: stay and be there, always. And I wanted Henry to be in this child, so that when he was gone, he wouldn’t be entirely gone, there would be a bit of him with me.”

Do you think Henry's respons to the losses was typical of a man? He went along with what Clare wanted. But he was so frightened he would lose her.

“Clare. The next time you miscarry, it’s going to kill you and I’m not going to keep doing something that’s going to end up with you dead. Five pregnancies… I know you want to try again, but I can’t. I can’t take it anymore, Clare. I’m sorry.”

Henry was looking for the "answer", gene therapy to "cure" the chrono-displacement.

It's so hard for men to accept that some things can't be "fixed" don't you think?

NCD said...

Thank you for helping explain the male perspective. It is so hard for me with each loss and while my husband is sad, he seems to 'get over it' so quickly.

I know (logically) that these pregnancies are abstract, but I can't understand it. Does that make his feelings an abstraction for me?