The Time Traveller’s Wife: by Audrey Niffenegger

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“Long ago, men went to sea, and women waited for them, standing on the edge of the water, scanning the horizon for the tiny ship. Now I wait for Henry. He vanishes unwillingly, without warning. I wait for him. Each moment that I wait feels like a year, an eternity. Each moment is as slow and transparent as glass. Through each moment I can see infinite moments lined up, waiting”.

We all suffer from a strange and often unspoken affliction…we are all unable to constantly fill the time and space that we call the present. We drift between worlds, seemingly without control, amongst rumination, worry and occupancy, accidentally decoupling our minds and letting the engine of ubiety continue without us being dragged behind. We become vacant, we vanish and we dissipate inside the spaces in our own edges until our presence is just outline and latency, just a costume worn to conceal our definite absence.

In this absence we visit younger versions of ourselves and judge what they made of the seconds which passed them by. We stand next to them and sometimes smile or cry and other times scream unheard in their ears like ghosts from other places. We visit the future too, with more trepidation, unsure of what we will be if we get there and what mistakes we will make that future ghosts will try to prevent by screaming unheard as they watch over our shoulders. In other times we visit neither but move suddenly to places of terror and bliss, running or bathing in the blood or spring dew which is warm and threatening or cold and refreshing underfoot.

This book is about place and the way in which it is internalised and subjective in a world which thinks that it is constant. It is about absence and about the effect on those who travel and those who are left behind. It is about time, love and patience and how with each passing year we become different versions of ourselves who think and love differently and stand closer or further away. It is also about death and the anxiety which taps on the empty chair and beckons it to sit down and the rumination which puts its coat on the empty chair and forces death to find rest somewhere further away. It is also about sequence and the order in which we decide to live in a system which naively tells us that there is only one way.

This book is beautiful and unique and clever and heartbreaking and unromantic and brash, occasionally brushing against the skin of sexual deviance and discomfort. It rearranges the cushion beneath itself and glances at the decisions its younger self had made, screaming silently in the ear of the author as she tapped the keys of the chapters, vacant, her outline just the costume hiding the reality of her absence. Decisions which dictated underlying commentary about place to the secretary of tapping fingers, of adventurous lustful men and stayed, dependable women…of the forbidden sexual attraction of youth and the deflowering of young virgins by forty year old scoundrels on picnic blankets. It writes on the bureau of love and longing and romance but scratches other messages on the wood below about women scanning the horizon for returning ships and the inability of men to remain.