Book of the week: Traveling to Infinity

Natalie Barletta – Opinions Editor

Whenever a movie that looks good comes out, and it’s based off of a book, what does one do? The answer to this question should be obvious. Go to Barnes and Noble and pick up a copy of it to read before you indulge in delicious popcorn. Or, if you want to go modern, you go to your ereader or tablet to download the book. Either way, you get the point.

That was my exact mentality when I picked up “Travelling to Infinity” by Jane Hawking. You might be familiar with her husband, Stephen. Stephen Hawking is a famous physicist and the author of the best-selling “A Brief History of Time.” Jane’s memoir was recently made into a movie called “The Theory of Everything” which stars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.

“Travelling to Infinity” is a memoir about Jane’s relationship to Stephen. It talks about how they met through school, their dating life, how he courted her and their brief engagement. One of the challenges that the couple had faced was Stephen’s illness, where the future was grim and dismal. The couple talked about how they didn’t know how long they would get, and wanted to preserve every moment.

The book continued to talk about their marriage, which also included the birth of their three children–Tim, Robert, and Lucy, and how Jane dealt with her many roles. These roles included nurse to Stephen, mother to her children, teacher to students in her later years and how she balanced getting her thesis done with her crazy home life.

In the early 70s, she met Jonathan Jones, who was a family friend and music teacher. Although she didn’t bluntly come out and say it, I suspected while reading that there was more than just friendship (and looking at Wikipedia confirmed it). During this time, it was crazy because Stephen’s health was fastly going downhill. Stephen was paralyzed and unable to walk or do much else for himself, but that didn’t stop him from becoming a huge success.

In the last chapters of the book, she then discussed the decay of her marriage to Stephen, and how she planned to go up from there. Five years after her divorce, she married

Honestly, I found it very difficult to stay motivated reading this novel. I am partially biased because I am not a fan of the memoir genre in particular. I powered through it in hopes that it would get better as I went on. That didn’t happen until maybe the last 50 or so pages. I honestly thought that for the most part, the book was boring and way too long.

However, there were some parts of her memoir that I did like. As Jane began to talk about the crumbling of her marriage, I honestly found it to be heartbreaking. As you can imagine, it’s a difficult topic for anyone to talk about, much less write about. She did it in a way that was beautifully written in my opinion.

Another final point about the book is that it was a beautiful story. The premise of it is simply breathtaking. The relationship between Stephen and Jane was beautiful, because Stephen didn’t have much hope for a life like he ended up getting. I thought that was the true point of the novel. It was beautiful in touching in that perspective, however, I still have mixed feelings about the book.

So, I recommend this book to someone who is interested in science, or likes memoirs or biographies. But, if fiction is more your forte then I suggest that you steer clear of it.


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