This is another of those books that has been on my “should read” list for a while but one I haven’t been that motivated to try. I think it was probably the time travel bit that sub-consciously put me off – I’m not especially adventurous with anything fantasty/science fiction related but I needn’t have worried. This is quite simply a beautiful love story and the first book I have ever read that has made me cry.
Henry time travels. Back or forward in time, outside of his control. It appears to be stress related. He always travels naked leaving piles of clothes in random places just as he disappears. He meets Clare in the meadow of her parents house when she is 6 and he is 36. He already knows then that they will marry when she is 22 and he is 30.
The book really is a story of their love and their lives together and quite often apart. The “chronology” is a bit hard to follow as Henry’s age changes back and forth throughout. For the first few chapters I was flicking back trying to piece it all together but in the end I gave up and just went with it and it worked much better.
I connected with both Henry and Clare’s characters. Especially Clare as a little girl trusting and helping this man who would come into her life every few weeks or months or sometimes years, leaving him clothes and food and accepting that sometimes he would arrive from a time when for him, they hadn’t yet met.
The story is told in a down to earth and contemporary way which I liked. It could have all been a bit surreal otherwise but Clare and Henry’s interactions helped to keep it all real.
There were a couple of things I didn’t like so much – Clare’s language when describing how she was feeling at one point was totally out of character I thought and I was quite shocked. Not that I’m overly prudish but I thought it was unnecessary and a bit odd. I also would have liked the “less polite” side of Henry’s character to have been more integrated into the story – I didn’t fully accept that aspect of him.
But they are just small things and didn’t detract at all from my enjoyment of this wonderful, long overdue read. I left it at work once by mistake, and was devastated to have to go a whole night without reading it.
Published 2003, 518 pages