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May 28, 2013 / ljbradburn-Smith

My love affair with Audrey

time travellers wife…Niffenegger began with The Time Traveller’s Wife, a beautiful book about love and the heartbreak caused by being separated from your soul mate at a seconds notice. This book had me exclaiming ‘not now!’ on more than one occasion as time-travelling librarian Henry was ripped away from Clare. Henry and Clare’s somewhat unconventional love affair is both marred and enhanced by his strange condition that causes him to travel through time with no control over when or where he goes. Clare is his only anchor to the linear passage of time and the optimistic, hippy part of me likes to think that Niffenegger is making a point about true love withstanding all obstacles and fate being able to transcend the boundaries of time. However, the sadness of Niffenegger’s novel also struck me through Henry and Clare’s distress at being separated and the suddenness with which it happens. I think that Niffenegger uses Henry’s time travel as a symbol of people wasting too much time not enjoying their relationships and getting so carried away with life that they stop appreciating what they have. All too often miscommunication can mean that people, in once happy relationships, feel stranded/hurt/alone, finding only frustration in places they used to find comfort. I think that the fact that the two protagonists kept meeting at such different points in their lives also shows the different types of love that can exist between husband and wife depending on the needs they have and again could be symbolic of relationships being a fine balance of what both people need. The fragility of life and love is sometimes frightening.

If you don’t mind a bit of page flipping (to remind yourself of the point in time you are reading about) and Niffenegger’s surprising honesty when it comes to self-love (you would if you could ;-)) you will heart this book as much as I do.

The next time I had the pleasure of rendezvousing with Audrey was when I read Her Fearful Symmetry. her fearful symmetery After The Time Travellers Wife I was expecting something amazing and I was not disappointed. What I wasn’t expecting though was quite how haunting this book would be. It is about twins who go to live in their estranged Aunt’s house, after her death, and in the process start to discover the true story of her life. The novel has a deceptively normal beginning, which lulled me into a false sense of security, before sneaking up behind me, on tiptoes, and hitting me over the head with the supernatural. Overall, this novel has a very surreal feel with a delightful tangle of various themes, including ghosts, OCD, psychic ability, history, lies, secrecy, identity and family loyalty. I have read a fair few reviews on this novel and I was surprised to find the amount of people who didn’t seem to like it because of Niffenegger’s unusual plot. Its strangeness only served to make it more appealing, to me, and in making me realise that Niffenegger is a more complex and intriguing writer than I could have ever imagined. If the world of twins didn’t  you fascinate you before you read this it certainly will after.

Niffenegger’s new book Raven Girl, Raven Girl which I am yet to read, makes me think that our love affair is about to become even more bizarre, which is quite some feat after Her Fearful symmetry. I am positive though that if anyone can convince me, of a plot, where a postman and a raven fall in love it’s Audrey. I have come to appreciate and love that the depths, of her imagination, knows no bounds, I have a feeling there is so much more to come and I have heard that this novel is darker and more surreal than any of her others so far. I often read books and think “I wish i’d thought of that first and written that amazing novel” (it’s good to have dreams!) but with Niffenegger’s books I know that I never could have.

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5 Comments

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  1. ioniamartin / May 28 2013 2:12 pm

    You had me at Audrey. A friend of mine just attended one of her book chats in London a few weeks ago. She is rather amazing! I love your blog. Another person who would rather be reading:)

    • ljbradburn / May 29 2013 12:02 pm

      Oh wow, i’m really jealous, I can imagine that learning more about the world of Audrey Niffenegger’s mind would be fascinating! Thanks very much, I love your blog too, it’s nice to meet so many like-minded people. Blogging is my new addiction! Hell yes, I would rather be reading, such a shame we can’t isn’t it! x

  2. prettybooks / May 28 2013 9:25 pm

    I applaud your Audrey Niffenegger appreciation!

    • ljbradburn / May 29 2013 11:58 am

      Thank you 🙂 and I applaud yours too, she is a brilliant woman isn’t she! x

  3. Grainne O'Riordan / May 29 2013 9:08 pm

    I really enjoyed The Time Traveller’s Wife but I adored Her Fearful Symmetry. It is so claustrophobic and intense. It reminded me of the Southern Gothic of Donna Tartt’s book Little Helper.

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