The story is essentially a time-travelling love story. Henry DeTamble has Chrono-Displacement – he periodically gets pulled out of linear time to moments in his past, present and future. All those he loves are in linear time, so they are older or younger, depending on when he is displaced to.
Clare is the eponymous wife, who meets Henry when she is six – and he is thirty six. He meets her for the first time when he is twenty-eight., and she is twenty or so. Because of time travel, he arrives in the new time completely naked. His first objective is always to get clothed, and the young Clare helps him do this. He tells her he is a time-traveller, and thus (for Clare) their relationship starts. What she has yet to learn, is that this man is her future husband, whom she marries when about 23, and he is about 30.
We then follow their lives, as told from their alternating viewpoints. The story highlights the importance of common touch-points (e.g. Henry’s punk music, the love of books, etc.) in a relationship.
Henry DeTamble: His world famous violinist mother dies in a car crash when he was young, which was his first instance of time-travelling. He is always looking to find himself, and can be self-centred at times. The insecurity caused by the randomness of his episodes keeps him constantly on edge.
Clare: A strong character, who has had the time to get used to his disappearances. She is an artist in her own right.
Kendrick: A geneticist that Henry tracks down, to try and make sense of his condition. Hard to convince at the start, Henry seals a letter to him, to be opened after a particular event, and Kendrick is converted.
What I Liked:
- The story and plotline was well-handled, though the device of telling us who was speaking and how old they were at each chapter was a definite bonus in keeping things together.
- Easy to read and well-paced, the prose just flows.
What I Didn’t like:
- I didn’t really empathise with the characters.
- The dream scenes seemed a little unnecessary.
It is a very good book, one for our current “quarantine” situation. A love story that can be a little graphic at times (so not one for the kids). I would recommend it.