Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

Archive for June 12th, 2012

The Time Traveler’s Wife

Posted by nliakos on June 12, 2012

by Audrey Niffenegger (Harvest/Harcourt 2003)

This was my second reading of The Time Traveler’s Wife, but I seem not to have blogged about it, so here goes.

It’s an amazing thing about fiction–how it can take an unbelievable premise (time travel) and make the reader believe in it. (Think of Harry Potter!) We willingly suspend disbelief and become entangled in the story, which seems so real, even when we know it isn’t. This is the love story of Clare Abshire DeTamble, the eponymous wife, and Henry DeTamble, who travels willy-nilly through time (his and hers), first encountering Clare as a six-year-old but not recognizing her when he meets her at twenty because his visits to her childhood self have not yet occurred for him. If you are confused, that’s because it’s really confusing. The chapters are all marked with the dates and Henry’s and Clare’s respective ages, but it’s still bewildering, and I don’t know how Niffenegger kept it all straight in her own mind while she was writing it!

What this is more than anything, though, is a love story: the story of Clare and Henry and how their love for each other transcends time and space. In this respect it reminds me of Robert Nathan’s Portrait of Jennie, although that love story was cut much shorter than this one; still, Clare and Henry’s story makes me cry every time I read it or see the movie. (I just watched it for the second time on Mother’s Day, courtesy of Vicki; that was why I had the urge to re-read the book.)

I suppose that time travel isn’t for everyone, but it has always intrigued me. Besides Portrait of Jennie and Kindred (by Octavia Butler), I’ve enjoyed the movies Kate and Leopold, Back to the Future, and Midnight in Paris. Still, I was astonished to find this very extensive list of time travel movies on Wikipedia; so I guess the concept is more popular than I suspected!

I loved The Time Traveler’s Wife, and even on the second reading, found it difficult to put down.

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Albert Nobbes

Posted by nliakos on June 12, 2012

by George Moore (in Celibate Lives by George Moore, originally published 1927 by J. C. Medley; Chatto & Windus 1968)

I recently saw the film Albert Nobbes, starring Glenn Close as a woman living her life as a male waiter in a 19th-century Dublin hotel. I was intrigued by the idea that in an era when single women probably had few opportunities to earn an honest living, this may have been more common than we imagine. I decided to read the novella on which the play and film were based.

It wasn’t easy to find it! I thought I might get it as a free e-Book (no) or at the public library (no!). I finally found a copy at the University of Maryland’s McKeldin Library. There are five novellas in the collection. I have read only “Albert Nobbes.”  The story is very similar to the film with certain changes to the plot; for example, in the movie, Albert goes to Hubert’s home and meets his (her) wife, whereas in the novella, Albert never sees Hubert again after the night they spend sharing Albert’s room and both their stories; s/he is left to wonder about Hubert’s marriage, and how/when Hubert revealed his/her sex to his/her wife until the end of the story. Albert’s death comes about differently in the novella, as well. However, the essence of the story was clearly there in the film.

I found it difficult to follow the narrative and dialogue, as both were enmeshed in the same long paragraphs without the benefit of quotation marks or line breaks to indicate who was saying what, or whether they were speaking aloud or just thinking. Modern readers are not accustomed to this kind of text, so it is a bit off-putting.

I haven’t decided whether I will read the other stories in the book yet.

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