Henry DeTamble, a mild-mannered librarian, suffers from a 'genetic
disorder' that causes him to travel in time unexpectedly. Many of his
time-traveling experiences are linked to Clare - a woman that he meets
at various times and places in her life, and falls in love with.
Primarily a love story, the book focuses on the difficulties caused in
Henry and Clare's relationship by his frequent disappearances, and the
dangers faced by Henry (inherent in showing up at a random location,
vulnerable, disoriented and naked). There is also the awkwardness
caused by the fact that Henry often meets Clare when she is a child
and he is an adult. The disjunction of the two meeting at different
points in time, from different perspectives on life and their
relationship is handled very well.
I liked how the time-travelling was placed in context of a new
ailment, shared by others, and a focus of research, but I wish that
more page time had been given to such a disorder's larger impact on
society. The book almost gives a sense of tunnel vision - Clare is so
solely focused on Henry that the world recedes. this makes sense
especially considering (SPOILERS) that after Henry's death, she spends
the entire rest of her life waiting for him, with the knowledge that
she will see him for one last moment. The book tries to position this
as a romantic and beautiful thing, but I couldn't see it as anything
else but a tragic waste of life.