Reviewed by Hydelguy
I do not really pick up books that have romance written all over it (contrived?). But this novel was unique. What attracted me to this novel was the fusion of science fiction and romance. And when I started reading it, it had me hooked from the first page. The novel reads like a diary of a couple living in Chicago – Henry and Clare. Henry works as a librarian (somehow, I find that an attractive profession — the smell of books all around you, the pin drop quietness, the sound of crispy pages turning). Clare is an artist. Because the novel reads like a diary with first person narrative and the dates marking each section, the personal touch of the novel just connected me with the characters. Another thing that glued me to this novel is the author’s imagination. Consider this, a husband meeting his wife when he is 36 and she is 6. Henry is suffering from a disorder that pulls him away to another time – past or future – and he has no control over it. Henry keeps on moving into his past or future while Clare is hoping that her husband is safe. The novel starts with a prologue where Clare is waiting for Henry, wondering if he is safe. She is feeling lonely. She compares her life to the days when men went to the sea and the wives waited for them looking at the horizon waiting for the ship to be seen.
Apart from the story line, the novel touches various other aspects of life such as the father-daughter relationship, drugs, marriage, death, and childhood. But the novel is mainly about marriage, I thought, cocooned in a wild fantasy plot.
The novel has some 518 pages but the clarity is incredible. There are no muddled descriptions or descriptions just for the sake of showing off the skills of wordplay. Each page is a pleasure to read. I remember the first chapter where Clare is 20 and Henry is 28 and they meet in the library; Clare describes the library – the smell of a carpet cleaner, the sound of her boots rapping the floor, the autumn sunshine seeping through the tall windows. She is looking for a book, runs into Henry, he does not know her, she is stumbling for words as she says she met him when she was a little girl.
Another favorite scene of mine is when Clare is 28 and Henry is 36, Clare is sleeping, Henry materializes and lands above her, she is startled, but then both start laughing, and she sees that his mouth is bleeding. She asks him about it. He says she (Clare at 6) just threw a shoe at him.
Another thing that I like in this novel are the dialogues, they seem so normal but at the same time so enchanting.
Overall, this is a classic.