I have always maintained: You don’t choose books. Books choose you. So it is with this one. It’s a gem of a book that has somehow escaped the book market’s hype(r) magicians. The story of a couple who have to live with a genetic disorder borders on science fiction and has all the elements of magic realism.
Henry and Claire are the new-age ideal romantic couple. Unlike Romeo-Juliet and Laila-Majnu they manage to live a life after they are married. The time span is from the middle of the 20th century till 2011. Henry DeTamble is one of the first few people to be diagnosed with Chrono Displacement Disorder. This means that can ever since he was 5 years he could time travel. Unfortunately, it is not self-controlled. He time travels mostly to the past to special events to which he is emotionally attached. And the trigger is usually stress; sometime flashing lights into his eyes can also do the trick. But since henry time travels at a time when such a phenomenon is not knowledged let alone recognised, he becomes an outcaste, a misfit. The pinch is that wherever he lands up he is sans clothes. He has to learn many tricks like pickpoketing, stealing clothes, breaking locks, mind-altering drugs, the works to survive.
The love of his life is Clare Abshire. We first meet Henry when he is 28 and Claire 20. But Henry meets Clare for the first time when she is 6 and he is 36 in a meadow at the back of her house. They start a secret relationship first as secret friends and then as lovers which is at once exciting, challenging, and perfect. Of course, nothing lasts forever but the very thought of just having seen a perfect relationship there can be between a man and a woman is so amazing.
The novel is told from the points of view of Henry and Clare. You get two perspectives of each incident thus completing the picture, in the same way that they complete each other. To be entirely honest, I’m still not sure about the dynamics of time travel because there is the possibility of multiple Henrys of the same or different age to be in one time and even interact with each other, confusing the other characters. All this time travelling gives rise to some hilarious as well as tragic scenes. For instance Henry finds it very difficult to explain to his boss at the Newberry library (Henry holds a 9-to-5 librarian’s job) why was running in between the bookshelves in his birthday suit.
You should read this book for the story. There is no philosophy that the book espouses other than “love and let love.” This book would make an excellent movie. Apparently Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston before their spilt wanted to make this book into a movie. Looks like that plan is on hold. In the meantime, read the book for the sheer joy of reading.
Rating: * * * * * Khallas (deadly)
My Rating System:
* * * * * = Khallas
* * * * = Bindaas
* * * = Jhakaas
* * = Timepass
* = Bakwaas