8 July 2006
I think I’m going to build a little shrine of books that feature Templars and the Holy Grail. After all, it’s better than hurling the books across the room.
My original intention was to read other contemporary novels dealing with these themes of which I have intimate acquaintance and comment on them here. But as someone once said, if you can’t say something nice… The first one I picked up from a small press started off all right, though it read like a Michael Crichton script…er…novel, just begging to be more visual than literary. I can’t complain there as I think cinematically when I write as well. Can’t help it. I was raised on movies, especially old ones. But then it was veering again into the Holy Blood, Holy Grail scenario and that’s when it let loose from my hands and accidentally hit the wall. Hmm. Anyway. I have another that I have begun to ease into and we’ll see if that also returns to the pile that will soon be the shrine.
However, I do have a book I read over my vacation that I can talk about. Over the past year I have read books I enjoy, even books I like. But it is rare that I come across a book I absolutely love. The book in question is The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I know this is a few years old now but it takes me a while to get to things. I didn’t know anything about this novel except its enigmatic title and that it was a bestseller, so when I dived in I was immediately captured by her prose. (Those who read my blog and my list of all-time favorite books know I’m a sucker for wonderful prose.) It is indeed a story about a time traveler and his wife. There are no goofy machines, no funny devices to muck it up. This time traveler has a genetic disorder that makes him move back and forth through time and all he can take is himself, so he is constantly inconvenienced with having to obtain clothes upon his arrivals. Henry the time traveler is well-read, well-educated, and deals with his disorder, learning horrible truths and the one great one—that love above all things transcends even time.
On one of his arrivals, he meets Clare and so they begin their strange romance, as Henry shows up in Clare’s life at its different points, from when she was six to her teenaged years and beyond. Niffenegger deals gently with all the characters, giving us glimpses of Henry’s father, the violinist whose downfall into alcoholism is the result of the loss of his wife in a terrible accident, one Henry is doomed to helplessly visit again and again throughout his life.
It is so cleverly wrought, so complicated and touching, that you immediately believe the world that Niffenegger creates. I certainly wouldn’t give anything away but it is above all a love story and definitely has it all, from its very funny moments to its poignant ones. I highly recommend this book. Time will fly for you as you read it and it will be most difficult to forget.