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What Janine is Reading, Late Summer/Early Fall 2011

In addition to the books I read for review, I’ve been doing some reading with my husband. Because he is not a romance fan, and I am not a fan of science fiction (his genre of choice), we have to meet in the middle. For the most part that has turned out to be young adult fantasy. Here are some of the books we’ve read together:

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

This is the third book in Pfeffer’s series about how people’s lives are changed when an asteroid knocks the moon’s orbit closer to Earth. This World We Live In continues the story of Miranda, the protagonist in the first book (Life as We Knew It). My husband and I were both disappointed that she seemed to have lost the maturity she had acquired by the end of the first book.

About a quarter or so into the book the protagonist of book 2 (The Dead and the Gone), Alex, showed up with his sister Julie. My interest sharpened at this point both because I like Alex much better than Miranda and Julie was my favorite character in the series, as well as because Alex and Miranda’s budding romance engaged my attention.

From that point on the book got quite good, and it was heading for a B+ grade when the story took a nosedive toward the end. I expect some realism and even bleakness from this series, but this ending was overkill. My other half thought the big event near the end unfolded in an unconvincing fashion, and hated that we were left hanging as to most of the characters’ fate. A side character seemed utterly superfluous to both of us as a result, too. So much about this ending was pointless that I can’t grade the book any higher than a C/C+.

Interestingly, when Jia reviewed Pfeffer’s series here, her preference among the books differed from mine. Whereas the second book was Jia’s least favorite, it was by far my favorite because it felt more believable to me than the other two, and because I had so much more empathy for those characters. I’m not sure I will be reading more of Pfeffer after the ending of book 3.

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Megan Whalen Turner’s Thief Series

I’ve reviewed all four of the books in this series in the past, but after seeing Turner on the YA panel at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, my husband and I decided to read the series together. It was the first reading for him and a reread for me. Although I had reread parts of some of the books before, it was only my second time reading the series in its entirety.

In my original review of The Thief, I felt that the first half was slow and the book aimed at a younger audience than me. I still feel that way, but it was fun to read the book knowing Gen’s secret from the beginning. My husband enjoyed The Thief very much on the level of the adventure story that it is when you haven’t yet read the later books and don’t know what’s coming.

The latter three books are targeted at older readers and full of intrigue. The King of Attolia, book three, is still my favorite because I find it so romantic and I really enjoy seeing Gen through the POV of Costis, his guard. There is something so satisfying to me about seeing Costis’ opinion of Gen evolve without his even realizing it for the longest time. Also, the intrigue is at its most intense and complex here, and watching the pieces of the puzzle fall into place is wonderful. This book is a rare perfect A for me now.

Having said that, book two (The Queen of Attolia) is probably the most girly, and I can see why so many romance readers count it as their favorite. The last third of that book is deeply romantic. The middle does drag a tiny bit, but less so for me on rereading than on the first read through when I didn’t know where that book was heading.

So on the whole, I’d say the first three books all rose in my estimation, which was pretty high to begin with. As for book four, A Conspiracy of Kings, perhaps because I had read it more recently, or because Sophos doesn’t have as many layers as Gen, my enjoyment of it was close to the same as before. My husband and I both felt that Sophos’ characterization in this book wasn’t entirely consistent with the shy, sweet, stammering Sophos we had met in The Thief, but we still enjoyed the book very much.

After reading all four books, my husband is as much of a Turner fan as I am. I’d probably give the series overall an A- grade.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

We selected this book because it’s both romantic and science fictional. My husband loved it, which surprised me, because there is quite a bit of focus on the romantic relationship. As for me, well, I had read it at least three or four times before so that should tell you something. I love Niffenegger’s prose, the main characters and the darkness and complexity of their relationship.

I also love the nonlinear structure which is just about perfect for the story since the romantic relationship itself develops in a nonlinear fashion. Henry first meets Clare when she is twenty and he is twenty-eight, but Clare first meets Henry when she is six and he is in his thirties. When Henry stays put in his own time, their age difference is always eight years, but when he is time traveling (something he cannot help) the age difference between them becomes protean.

I thought a lot about the issue of reader consent as I read The Time Traveler’s Wife this time, about how Niffenegger manages to pull this realtionship off to me without that much of a squick factor. Part of it is that when we first see them interact, Clare is an adult and the pursuer. Part of it is that Henry has no control over where and when he travels to. Another part is that so much serves to separate them that it is hard not to want their happiness almost as badly as they do.

Toward the end of the book, Henry compares their love to a net under a high wire walker. Between the strangeness of the relationship and the complexity of the timeline, the book itself is a kind of high wire act. Still, this time around, I wasn’t as emotionally caught up in the story as I’ve often been in the past. I was more conscious of some of its flaws, like the way I couldn’t understand Clare’s friendship with her old roommate Charisse, or Charisse herself. Typically this book wrings tears by the bucket load out of me; this time I was just a little damp-eyed.

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What about you guys? What did you think of these books, if you have read them? And have you ever tried to read with a partner? If so, do you find your tastes in books similar or dissimilar?

Janine Ballard loves well-paced, character driven novels in historical romance, fantasy, YA, and the occasional outlier genre. Recent examples include novels by Katherine Addison, Meljean Brook, Kristin Cashore, Cecilia Grant, Rachel Hartman, Ann Leckie, Jeannie Lin, Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, Miranda Neville, and Nalini Singh. Janine also writes fiction. Her critique partners are Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran and Bettie Sharpe. Her erotic short story, “Kiss of Life,” appears in the Berkley anthology AGONY/ECSTASY under the pen name Lily Daniels. You can email Janine at janineballard at gmail dot com or find her on Twitter @janine_ballard.

35 Comments

  1. Elyssa Papa
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 12:02:44

    So. I totally want to know the ending of book three now, lol.

    And I have to read Turner’s series. I started the first book but put it down for some reason–I might have been distracted with the lure of another book–but your review reminded me I should try those books again.

  2. Janine
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 12:08:37

    @Elyssa Papa: You don’t want me to spoil This World We Live In for you, do you?

    Re. the Turner series, the first half of book 1 is slow, I almost gave up there too. It does pick up in the second half, although book 1 is probably my least favorite in the series. It’s worth reading for the set up of the other books, but if you find you can’t get into it, move on to book 2, which is written for an older audience and has a lot more romance. In any case, don’t give up, because that series is so worth reading!

  3. Ariel/Sycorax Pine
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 12:08:44

    I’m heartened to hear your bird’s-eye opinion of the Thief series, because I confess I gave up after finding the first one not quite to my taste. I’ll have to give it another try and forge onward to the other books, which I have heard elsewhere are the real strength in the series.

    I can’t remember, Janine, whether you’ve read Kristin Cashore’s books, Graceling and Fire. I would say they’re among the top YA fantasy (or just plain fantasy) I’ve ever read, and they function really well as feminist romances, I think, all while addressing some really complex issues about how you comes to a sense of self and self-worth when the world sees your value exclusively through the lens of some very dubious “gifts.”

  4. LG
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 12:17:46

    I really enjoyed The Time Traveler’s Wife – I read it twice, once on my own (while I was in Chicago, doing research at the Newberry Library – added bonus!) and once with a book club. Opinions were divided at the book club. Some people liked it as much as I did, while some people were really turned off by the romance. It let to some fantastic discussions, though.

  5. Janine
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 12:25:50

    @Ariel/Sycorax Pine: A lot of people love The Thief but it’s much more of a kids book than the later three books are. There are some things going on beneath the surface in The Thief that readers may not be aware of until close to the end of that book, but the complexities grow in the later books and reach dizzying heights in The King of Attolia.

    When I first read book 1, for most of the book I found Gen irritating and not particularly likeable, but I can’t even tell you how much I love him now. He has more facets than a brilliant cut gemstone. Also, Turner puts him through the wringer in book 2 and that was one of the things that finally got me on his side.

    With that said, I didn’t fall in love with the series until the last third of book 2, but after reading book 3, I can’t imagine anything that will get between me and books 5 & 6 when they come out.

    Also, I recently loaned my copies of the first three books (book 4 was digital and couldn’t be loaned) to Bettie Sharpe and she read them in 48 hours and bought book 4 as soon as she was done.

    Re. Kristin Cashore’s books. No, I haven’t read them. I suggested them to my husband but he wasn’t interested. I may read them on my own sometime, but Jia has already reviewed them here so it will be hard to fit them into my schedule. Great to know that they are good.

  6. Janine
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 12:29:50

    @LG: Wow, so interesting that you read The Time Traveler’s Wife while doing research on the Newberry (one of the settings used in the book). Does the Newberry really have a “cage”?

    Also, what kind of book club was it? Were they romance readers or lit fic readers? I’m curious because of your comment on the romance being a turnoff. I wonder what it was about it that turned them off.

  7. Bettie
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 12:52:55

    I LOVED Megan Whalen Turner’s series. Janine, thank you so much for lending me those books. Since I read them, I’ve been recommending The Thief to younger readers, and the entire series to middle-school and up — especially to parents looking for YA fantasy novels for their daughters that feature both a romance thread and strong, smart female characters.

  8. Janine
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 13:07:49

    @Bettie: I’m jazzed that you enjoyed them so much. It’s one of those series that’s almost impossible not to tell the whole world about.

  9. Elyssa Papa
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 13:19:02

    @Janine: Totally spoil the book for me!

  10. Janine
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 13:48:28

    @Elyssa Papa:

    Okay BIG SPOILERS (for both The Dead and the Gone and This World We Live In) COMING UP!
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    As mentioned, the second book was my favorite in the series. That one focused on Alex, a teenage boy left responsible for his two sisters after their parents apparently died (there was no way to find out for sure). He had to scrounge to feed his sisters in a chaotic and sometimes terrifying environment. Toward the end of the book, the middle sister, Brianna, died of an asthma attack. Alex and the youngest sister, Julie, had never been close but now they were all each other had and the book ended with them realizing how much they needed each other. Julie was my favorite character in the whole series because of the way she had so much character growth (unlike Miranda [heroine of books 1 and 3]!).

    Now on to book 3. In book 3 Miranda and Alex meet up when her father arrives at her mother’s house with Alex, Julie and another friend named Charlie in tow. Miranda falls in love with Alex, and eventually he falls for her too. But Alex’s reason for living is the responsibility he feels for Julie’s life. At one point he tells Miranda that he has sleeping pills he has kept in case something bad happens to Julie (an all too likely reality in this post-apocalyptic world) and he needs to euthanize her.

    So now toward the end. Miranda decides to join Alex and Julie on a journey away from her family. Alex and Miranda plan to get married. But before they can marry or leave, a tornado strikes and destroys their house trapping Charlie, who dies of a heart attack, with Miranda’s stepmom and her baby (stepmom and baby are eventually rescued), as well as flinging Alex miles away, even though he was in a different location, and collapsing another house on Julie, although she was in third location.

    This was what my husband had a problem with — he felt that the tornado didn’t behave like a real tornado would, and it was extremely unlikely that all three events would happen simultaneously in three separate locations and that it was a big plot contrivance. It could be argued that this is due to the changes in the earth since the moon is so much closer, and who knows, maybe that is possible. Unlike him, I haven’t looked into tornadoes. My problem with it was a different one.

    First, Julie is paralyzed from the waist down, which means that she cannot survive. Second, because it takes Alex three days to return home (he gets lost and can’t find his way even though earlier we were told and shown that he had a great sense of direction), he is presumed dead. Miranda, thinking Alex is dead, decides to do what he would have wanted and gives Julie the sleeping pills without telling her what they are.

    So Julie dies. Then Alex comes home and is told that Julie died but not how. And rather than confessing what she did, Miranda plans to wait until Alex figures it out on his own. She thinks about how he will probably be unable to understand or forgive her for not waiting for his return so that he could be the one to make the decision.

    The book ends with Miranda’s family and Alex planning to journey south on foot, but as far as I can tell, they don’t have provisions because the house was destroyed, and this is a food-scarce society. We are never told if any of them survive, or what happens to Miranda and Alex’s relationship.

    Also, to sum up, Julie, IMO the best character in the whole series, is dead. And so is Charlie — a totally pointless character since he seems to serve no function whatsoever in the story. I don’t even understand why he was in the book. And Alex, with Julie dead, will probably not want to live once his relationship with Miranda sours.

    I think it’s overkill in terms of the heaping tragedy on the characters, and it also felt contrived to me in the sense that everyone who wasn’t part of Miranda’s family or planning to marry into it died, and the whole family had to journey away from their house as a result.

    Also contrived as well as stupid was that they had no car. They had one to start with but had forgotten to turn over the motor which IMO isn’t the kind of thing anyone who wanted to survive would forget in this society. But this conveniently forced them to leave together, since a car would have required those who couldn’t fit into it to travel separately.

    On top of all that overkill and contrivance, readers were left hanging as to the outcome of either the external plot or the romance. Last I heard, Pfeffer didn’t plan any further books in the series.

    Apologies for the length of this comment, but you wanted to know.

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    END OF SPOILERS

  11. Michelle
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 14:44:38

    My love for Megan Whalen Turner knows no bounds. I really enjoyed the Thief, but I enjoyed it even more the second time because I picked up on small details that I missed the first time. So many good lines-also I enjoy how book 2 picks up on some things-”the cart” joke, also “beauty vs kindness”. Book 3 is my favorite too-kind of a scarlet pimpernel feel. Also Costis is amazing. Hope he shows up in book 5. I highly recommend the audibook versions.

  12. Elyssa Papa
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 14:54:35

    No need to apologize, Janine. I appreciate the spoiler and will definitely not be reading that book. That’s really disappointing about Julie! Sigh. It’s always the good characters who die too soon.

  13. Janine
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 18:10:50

    @Michelle: I agree The Thief is better the second time around. Knowing Gen’s secret from the beginning makes it more exciting.

    I’m very fond of Costis also, and think he is a great character through whose eyes to view the romantic relationship. Maybe that is part of why for me book 3 was also the most romantic of the series — I know for many readers that descriptor would go to book 2.

  14. Janine
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 18:14:41

    @Elyssa Papa: FWIW, Jia liked the book much more than I did. I can’t access her review of it anymore — for some reason I get a 404 error on that page — but when I search for the review I can see the grade, which was a B+.

  15. Emily
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 19:30:44

    I love the Time Travelers Wife. I think the uniqueness of the story is what pulled me in. It’s an interesting concept and story and is very well written.

  16. Jorrie Spencer
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 20:41:21

    I haven’t read the first book, but I’m a very big fan of both the Megan Whalen Turner series and The Time Traveler’s Wife. (I keep thinking I should read Niffenegger’s second book but have avoided it so far.)

    Interestingly, your favorite book, The King of Attolia, may be my least favorite. (Though that still means I like it very, very much :) I did struggle with Costis the narrator. (I’m trying to remember why now. Perhaps because he seemed a bit slow? One day I will have to do a reread. Perhaps when another book in the series is released.)

    My new favorite YA book is The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan. So I keep mentioning hither and yon.

  17. Susan/DC
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 21:01:27

    I’m another fan of Turner’s Thief series. She has created a recognizable yet foreign world whose geography and mythology echo ours but differ in interesting way. The books are full of fascinating characters, thrilling adventures, and an incredible romance. I love how seemingly throw-away remarks or minor events turn out to be significant to the storyline or the relationships. I also love how many layers each character has, particularly Gen, of course, but how the Queen’s backstory reveals that she too is capable of surprising us. I am very happy to hear that there will be at least two more books.

  18. DS
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 21:30:20

    @Jorrie Spencer: I just finished The Demon’s Lexicon. I’m trying to figure out if I want to read the sequels or just let this one book stand alone.

    The copy I have also has the original first edition dj that looks like it might been changed (even on the hard cover) for something more action oriented that I also find a lot less interesting.

  19. Bronte
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 05:45:55

    I must be in the minority because the time travellers wife hit my squick button BIG time. I thought it was fairly well done but I still couldn’t get past a naked man spending time with a six year old girl. I haven’t read any Megan whalen turner but I think I will give her books a try. I usually enjoy the books you recommend Janine so I’ll see what the thief is like.

  20. Jane
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 11:19:27

    Jia’s Pfeffer review link fixed.

  21. Michelle
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 11:25:07

    I really enjoyed The Demon’s Lexicon. Be careful of looking at the other books before reading it, you don’t want to be spoiled. Saying that the second book was pretty good, but the third book was blah to me. But the first can be read as a stand alone.

  22. Jorrie Spencer
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 11:34:02

    @DS I read and enjoyed the second book, and I’ll read the third book. But it’s the first book that really does it for me. So far!

    @Michelle Agreed. The second book should be avoided (i.e. reviews or cover copy) until the first book is read. Well, unless you like spoilers, of course.

    @Bronte I can understand your take on it, regarding him meeting her as a child. (Though didn’t she have to bring him clothes? I don’t quite remember. I thought he was quite careful around her as a child, but it’s been a while.) For me, it taps into the desire to understand your loved one’s childhood better than you can when you’ve met as adults. Of course, it’s more than that in the context of this novel, but that’s where I went with those scenes. I didn’t see it as sexual. But since it’s been years since I’ve read the book, I can’t support my take on it with a close reading.

  23. Janine
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 12:09:24

    @Emily: Yes, agreed, the uniqueness of and the quality of the writing in The Time Traveler’s Wife do make it special. Even though I noticed more flaws this time around, I still think it’s a pretty terrific book.

    @Jorrie Spencer: I haven’t read Niffenegger’s second book (Her Fearful Symmetry) yet either. It seems to be a lot less popular.

    SPOILERS for The King of Attolia
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    I think you’ve hit on one of the reasons why some readers have a problem with Costis as the narrator of The King of Attolia. I don’t actually think he is slow. He is not as quick-witted as Gen (but then hardly anyone is except perhaps Irene), but he’s actually quicker than all his fellow guards.

    However, we readers start out knowing more than Costis does. While we don’t know all of Gen’s machinations, we know Gen well enough by the beginning of book three to understand that he has several cards up his sleeve, and that he’s far from the dilettante he pretends to be.

    So I think that Costis’s contempt for Gen may be frustrating to some, especially if they already love Gen.

    But for me, Costis’s total underestimation of Gen actually created a different response — a delicious feeling of anticipation. I couldn’t wait to see how Gen would prove him (and everyone else) wrong. I knew that Gen would pull the wool over their eyes and then pull it away when it was far too late and impossible to outsmart him. And I knew that Costis would be won over. Watching Gen’s plans unfold, and seeing that winning over process was incredibly satisfying to me.

    But beyond all that, I’m very fond of Costis as a person. He was honorable enough to do the right thing and aid Gen even before he knew the truth. And I loved his internal conflict that came of standing by Gen even when it isolated him from his fellow guards and friends or allies. Gen and Costis’s relationship in itself is fascinating to me because they are so different and they start out so far apart but end in such a different place.

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    END OF SPOILERS

  24. Janine
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 12:16:46

    @Susan/DC:

    I’m another fan of Turner’s Thief series. She has created a recognizable yet foreign world whose geography and mythology echo ours but differ in interesting way.

    When I saw Turner speak at the LA Times Festival of Books, she actually said that at the beginning of her writing process, she was stuck because as a Tolkien fan who had read a lot of Tolkien imitators, she wanted a setting that was completely different from the kind of setting Tolkien used, yet at the same time, familiar and recognizable to readers. When she hit on Greece, she knew she had found her setting.

    The books are full of fascinating characters, thrilling adventures, and an incredible romance. I love how seemingly throw-away remarks or minor events turn out to be significant to the storyline or the relationships. I also love how many layers each character has, particularly Gen, of course, but how the Queen’s backstory reveals that she too is capable of surprising us.

    I love all those too! Such a great series.

    I am very happy to hear that there will be at least two more books.

    It will be a long wait for the next book though. As much as I love Sophos, I hope the next book returns us to Gen. I also wonder what POV she will use, since she likes to switch those. I’ve been wondering if we’ll get a book from the POV of one of the Medes, or that of the Magus.

  25. Jorrie Spencer
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 12:20:45

    @Janine Interesting! I think on a reread, where I won’t be fighting Costis as a narrator—I spent some energy being annoyed I was in his point of view, I’ll admit—I may be able to get more out of it.

  26. Janine
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 12:25:35

    @Jorrie Spencer & @DS: I haven’t read The Demon’s Lexicon yet. Need to look into it sometime.

    @Bronte: I tend to agree with @Jorrie Spencer that Henry was pretty careful around Clare (with one slip-up when she was fifteen) and also, had no choice about appearing naked. He needed her to bring him clothing or he would have frozen to death when it was winter.

    Clare also told him that she felt like he was warping her, and that acknowledgement made it easier for me to accept the relationship than I would have had they pretended it was normal. They both wanted normalcy but neither could have it, and that was the struggle that made their relationship so poignant.

    SPOILERS
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    I think I was most squicked out by the first time they had sex. He was time traveling and it was her eighteenth birthday and she would not see him again for two more years. She wanted to have sex, and he gave in even though he was forty-two. That 24 year age difference in that scene really bothered me, even though they both viewed it as a very positive experience afterward (in Clare’s case, many years later, too).

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    END OF SPOILERS

  27. Janine
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 12:31:10

    @Bronte:

    I haven’t read any Megan whalen turner but I think I will give her books a try. I usually enjoy the books you recommend Janine so I’ll see what the thief is like.

    Thanks for telling me you usually enjoy my recs. It is good to hear.

    Re. the Turner series, just remember that The Thief is for considerably younger readers than the later books. I only enjoyed it mildly, and the second half is better (something that is true in each of her books, actually!). So keep going even if the beginning feels slow, or if you can’t, skip ahead to book two which is where things start to get much more compelling IMO.

  28. Janine
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 12:34:46

    @Jane: Thanks so much for fixing the link to Jia’s review! I would have emailed you about it but I didn’t think it could be fixed. Next time I’ll know.

    @Jorrie Spencer: If you ever do reread it, I’d be interested in hearing what you think of the book the second time around. As Turner said when I saw her speak, the books are all written with rereading in mind. So they are great for that.

  29. Marguerite Kaye
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 09:15:13

    I’m another one sticking my hand up for the minority who really, really hated The Time Traveller’s Wife. I found the whole premise achingly painful, perhaps because I believed in their love so much. The fact that they had no control over when they met and how, the fact that she remained unchanged while he dashed about and metamorphosed all over the place, it seemed so UNFAIR! I’m all for a book that is tragic and gives me a good cry, but this book made me angry!

  30. Janine
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 12:53:06

    @Marguerite Kaye: Interesting. I think for me that struggle for normalcy was a lot of what I loved in the book. Because don’t we all have times where all we want is to have a quiet, peaceful, normal life, but something gets in the way of that?

    Also, one of the central themes of the book was the conflict between love and time, and that spoke to me too, because time is something that marks all of us. We experience loss after loss in life because of it. Time is what ultimately separates us from the people we love, and yet our love doesn’t die even after time has taken them away. So yeah, it was tragic, but for all the novel’s flights of fantasy, it also captured something very real.

  31. Marguerite Kaye
    Oct 28, 2011 @ 04:30:32

    @Janine: When you put it like that I agree. I am a total romantic and I do believe that love triumphs over time and lives beyond it and yes, of course we all want a nice peaceful life whatever ‘normal’ happens to be.

    But…

    What just didn’t work for me in this book was that there was no hope. No matter what, they were never going to have a happy ever after. The notion of love triumphing was made impossible by the premise, and that’s why I just couldn’t cope with it – and I mean, it actually made me miserable to read. I’ve read loads of books I’ve disliked, but this one affected me on a much deeper level and my horror of it stays with me. So I guess in a way it was an extremely successful piece of writing, but I wish I’d never read it.

  32. Janine
    Oct 28, 2011 @ 10:38:17

    @Marguerite Kaye: I hear you. I’ve had books that affected me that deeply, that filled me with despair and that I wished I hadn’t read. For some reason The Time Traveler’s Wife wasn’t one. The ending did make me feel blue, but not enough to put me in a funk.

    Maybe that was because I knew going in there would be no HEA? Or because what happened at the end was heavily foreshadowed, so I was able to prepare myself for it?

    Or maybe because Henry and Clare had some advantages due to his time traveling that other people don’t get. For example, being able to buy a winning lottery ticket and knowing when stocks would peak. But also more personal things, like Henry knowing Clare as a child as well as Clare the adult. They got things other people don’t get, both good and bad, so for me, it was tragic, but not purely tragic, if that makes sense. I felt that Henry cheated death over and over, so when he couldn’t do so anymore, it was very sad but also fitting.

    But I have had the experience you talk about with other books, and I’m sorry this one made you feel this way.

  33. Marguerite Kaye
    Oct 28, 2011 @ 11:02:36

    Janine, I think you’re right about expectations being the key to this book for me. I know that the ending was foreshadowed, but I managed not to notice, and I didn’t know anything about it when I picked it up, which explains my fairly violent reaction when I felt like it let me down. Your interpretation has made me think, especially in terms of offsetting the ending against what they had that was so different – though not enough to risk reading it again just yet! – so thank you for that. But right now, having just forced myself to finish Julian Barnes’ Booker winning novel, I think I need some light relief.

  34. Janine
    Oct 28, 2011 @ 20:53:03

    @Marguerite Kaye: I completely understand. I can be such a wimp when it comes to lit fic because of the frequently tragic endings. Hope your next read is more fun!

  35. Interview with Audrey Niffenegger
    Oct 14, 2013 @ 10:02:13

    […] Jennie and I were delighted. We’ve both enjoyed The Time Traveler’s Wife a great deal (I’ve read it around five times), and Jennie has read Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry, and enjoyed that […]

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