by Audrey Niffenegger
Yuck yuck yuck! I hated this book! Despite the fact that I still think the premise is quite interesting - the book was just terrible!
I would actually like to see what a different author would do with the idea of a man involuntarily traveling back and forth in time - meeting with his younger self, his wife's younger self, his older child, etc. Preferably an author without such a fondness for all manner of curse words. Page after page after page just littered with profanity - it didn't come across as "realistic" - it reads more like the author was trying to shock us. It makes the author and the characters seem crude and uneducated. In high school one of my teachers informed the class on the first day of school that there would be no cursing in his classroom. He then directed our attention to the quote displayed in the room: "Profanity is a weak mind trying to express itself forcefully." I couldn't help but think of that quote time and time again while reading this book. Really author, are those the only words you know? Because I know some words that you could have used instead that wouldn't make you sound like a jerk trying to impress us with your "tough" language. A few profanities in a book, I can look over, realize that some people do talk that way and let it go, but in this book it was just excessive.
Secondly, and in addition to the profanities, there were many scenes in the book that were intensely suggestive, crude and explicit. I found myself flipping through pages just to find where it ended and it was safe to read again. Henry's and Clare's love wasn't believable at times. Why do they love each other? - the author doesn't really tell us, except that Henry's all Clare's ever known and they have sex a lot. Henry as a 30- and 40-something adult time travels back to when Clare is a child. He meets her, tells her about his time travelling, asks her to keep it a secret, etc. I found the whole exchange to be creepy. In his time he's married to Clare, and sometimes when he's visiting with teenage Clare he has a hard time thinking of her as a child. Ew!
Thirdly, Henry and Clare aren't even that likable. Henry's a cad and an alcoholic. He's selfish, he thinks only of himself. Clare just acts like a martyr. She does nothing but wait for Henry. She takes advantage of her friend's trust. The don't read as real, and I didn't really care what happened to them because I didn't like them. I like to feel like I could be friends with the characters in the books I read, if they actually existed in real life. If I were to meet a real life Henry and Clare I'd try to stay as far away as possible!
And lastly (yes, I have one more thing to complain about!), throughout the whole book the author litters the text with references to obscure authors and artists as if to impress the reader with her great knowledge. Often we are forced to read through sentences, paragraphs of text in French or German. Almost none of these sections are translated. If they aren't important enough to the story to need to be translated, then why include them at all? Again, it gave me the distinct impression that the author was talking down to me, the reader. Pretty much guarantees that I will never read a book by her again.
So to summarize, I thought this book was a tasteless, crude adaptation of what could have been an interesting story. I can't think of anyone I'd recommend it to - in fact, I'd be more likely to warn people not to read it. Yuck. I'm so excited to read something else!