The Time Traveler’s Wife: An Unadaptable Book?

The Time Traveler's Wife
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The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is a timeless classic, but it has twice fallen short as a screen adaptation. Despite the book’s praise by critics for an original perspective on time travel, this may be one novel that simply doesn’t work as a film or a television series.

Should You Add The Time Traveler’s Wife to Your Reading List?

Numerous books out there could be considered essential reading, and many would argue that The Time Traveler’s Wife should be included. It’s a highly accessible book that’s geared towards a diverse demographic. Told from the viewpoints of a husband and wife, both male and female readers will be able to identify with them.

More people than ever are reading, meaning that those who read popular offerings will have friends to discuss them with. Indeed, according to PIA’s blog piece, there was a 25 percent increase in readers in the USA in 2020. Celebrities like Emma Watson are promoting reading and encouraging more people than ever to take up the pastime.

For people who haven’t read anything in a while, a novel like The Time Traveler’s Wife could be an excellent gateway book. It’s a thick offering at over 500 pages, but it’s a real page turner that most readers will find easy to consume. The addictive and intricate plot is enough to stoke a passion for reading in anyone.

If you’re not sure about whether to read The Time Traveler’s Wife, you may be encouraged by the critical response to the book. Niffenegger’s 2003 offering has a 3.99 star rating on Goodreads, and many praised it for its unique portrayal of time travel coupled with a romantic storyline.

Adaptations Haven’t Lived Up to the Original Work

Anyone considering reading The Time Traveler’s Wife would be wise to avoid watching either of the adaptations. The big screen offering was released in 2009 and was a commercial success. The movie was met with negative reviews, with many critics concurring that it had an illogical narrative.

A feature film clearly wasn’t long enough to do Niffenegger’s work justice. That’s why many people thought it would work more effectively as a television series. In 2022, HBO commissioned this to the delight of fans. It was released in six episodes and features Theo James and Rose Leslie in the lead roles.

The series also garnered a poor critical reception. It was swiftly canceled, but some loyal readers have tried to petition for other streaming platforms to pick it up. According to a review from CNN, the series provided further proof of how unadaptable the original work is. The drastically non-linear narrative is easy to get used to in the novel, but it can be highly confusing on screen.

If you’ve been put off reading The Time Traveler’s Wife due to the negative reviews of the screen adaptations, you should think again. The novel itself is a modern-day classic, and one that everyone should read at least once.


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