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.
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