Q. When is a science-fiction book not a science-fiction book?
A. When it’s made into a hollywood love story movie.
Do you know what book I’m referring to?
Actually, the jury is still out on what genre this book falls into.
Wiki reveals: Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens and paranormal abilities.
So while the premise is unarguably attached to the science fiction notion of time travel, the themes this book explores are more attached to the ‘touchy-feely’ human experiences of relationship, family, love, trust.
It is reported that the catalyst for Audrey Niffeneger to write this book was centred around failures and experiences in her own relationships. Perhaps her time travel theme came from her feeling of displacement in uncomfortable personal relationships.
Let me say up-front, I am in awe of Niffenegger’s skill to create this complex time-travel tome and her ever-giving and forgiving heroine Clare (alter ego for Audrey?).
Hmm, The Time Traveler’s Wife, not the Time Traveler.
Clare Abshire is one determined and spirited young lady. Could you imagine how you would feel as a parent if you knew your very young daughter was meeting up with a naked man in your field?
Just when did the concept of ‘stranger danger’ become the No. 1 talking point and the raison d’être of vigilance about knowing where our kids are become the prime thought of the day.
Are you old enough to remember the days when you just had to be indoors by sun-down? We do live in a different world now…maybe. There is room for debate. Is the world different, or is our knowledge of the world different? A topic for discussion another day.
Clare Abshire, The Time Traveler’s Wife.
You know, I can’t even imagine how Clare managed to live her day to day life with ‘time travelling’ Henry popping in unexpectedly over a period of 12 years before they actually meet in ‘real time’. Clare certainly displays an air of resignation to her involvement with Henry as shown when Gomez repeatedly urges her to not marry Henry, she tells him, “I have no choice… I’ve seen my future; I can’t change it, and I wouldn’t if I could”. She reiterates that statement many times throughout the novel, because she wants to believe that having no choice means making no mistakes: “I never chose Henry. He never chose me. So how could it be a mistake?”
What is Niffeneger saying, she felt powerless in her relationships to make choices?
This book is deep and far reaching. It explores a whole range of issues and the reader has to work hard to keep up with the pace created by the narrative changes and the time traveling (happy to admit that I struggled often to keep the time line in focus.)
So how does this science fiction book make it on to the BIG screen as a Hollywood love story?
Not well, I’d argue.
There are many material differences between the book and the movie. Here are a selection:
- Henry loved to run in the book, and it isn’t a main point in the movie.
- Henry dates a girl named Ingrid, who ends up committing suicide.
- Clare’s mom is very depressed, and dies in the book.
- In the book, Gomez hits on Clare.
- Henry’s foot has to be amputated in the book and becomes the catalyst for his death.
- Clare decides to look for a house for herself, because she didn’t want Henry to tell her which one the house would be.
- In the end of the book, Clare sees Henry as an old woman, right before she passes away.
Hollywood audiences demanded a soft, happy ending!
If you want to bring a book to the BIG screen, tell it how it is. Don’t make up a new ‘audience friendly’ happy ending.
If you only saw the movie of The Time Traveller’s Wife, you have missed out on significant storyline and the characterization that richly populates the text of this book.
The book, is the winner by far!