Written by Audrey Niffenegger, this novel is a combination of fantasy and romance, with a touch of late twentieth/early twenty-first century cultural history thrown into the mix. The reader is asked to believe in time travel as a result of a chromosomal mutation that causes main character Henry DeTamble to travel to different points in his life; the process is activated by stress, and Henry has no control over when it occurs. The other main character, Clare Abshire, the love of Henry’s life, first meets him at the age of six and then again at various points of her life until the age of twenty (to Henry’s twenty-eight) when both meet in their present, form a romantic relationship and marry.
We continue to follow their encounters at different points in time (Clare getting there the traditional way and Henry through time travel); experiencing their joys and their sorrows, companionship and loneliness, under these unusual circumstances. Although tragedy eventually ensues, we are left with a hopeful late-in-life encounter between the two, causing the reader to wonder what exactly the true nature of time is.