This is the extraordinary love story of Clare and Henry, who met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry was thirty. Impossible but true, because Henry suffers from a rare condition where his genetic clock periodically resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future.
In the face of this force they can neither prevent nor control, Henry and Clare’s struggle to lead normal lives is both intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.
I have a lot of feelings about this book but all of them are kind of floating in a pool of boredom. I believe the main reason for that is the fact that the book is so unnecessarily long and stuffed with details that don’t really contribute to anything. There are authors that have the talent to narrate even shopping list in an extremely captivating way. Unfortunately, for me, Audrey Niffenegger was very far from that. But putting this aside, the novel does have an intriguing side and that’s why I didn’t abandon it midway.
There is something unsettling about this book, especially the first half of it, when Clare is still young. Yes, the story is interesting, cute, funny (although sometimes the humor feels a bit forced) and sweet, but somewhere above all these nice feelings, you cannot stop feeling uneasy. Despite the fact that the characters are doing their very best to do everything morally right, something still feels wrong. You cannot exactly pinpoint how you would expect them to behave in such a situation. And I believe the author was very intentional for the readers to feel this way.
I loved the dinamic of knowledge between the two protagonists. Although you would expect Henry to be the only one with all the information – and in the beginning, everything seems to encourage this belief – later things switch to the exact opposite, for a period of time. It kind of makes sense, but it’s still a very unexpected twist.
I did like the fact that science gets to play a role in the story even if it doesn’t solve the mystery. But the fact that the protagonist looks for a medical explanation for his condition does offer a more realistic approach. Unlike some of the other aspects that are making it very hard to see the characters in a relatable way: the house full of servants, the unlimited flow of money, the artsy vibe of the protagonists. But still, those things are enabling the characters’ story so they were only mildly annoying.
I heard about this book for such a long time and was always curious about it, so I’m happy that I finally read it. But I am more happy now, that I’ve finally finished it than I was during the reading. And it’s never a great sign when a book feels more like a task.