Her Fearful Symmetry


I am dying to hear what everyone else thinks of this book and I think everyone at work is sick of me ‘going on’ about it so hopefully this review will get it out of my system.

I first must confess that although this is a book review I did not actually ‘read’ the book, I listen to it to and from work. This has been my first experience with audio books (I cannot think of a better way to fill in my commute time) and I am a little unsure whether listening to this book as opposed to reading will have had a notable impact on my opinions on the book and hence would love to hear others think.

Audrey Niffenegger is the Author of the very successful The Time Travellers Wife. Her second book, Her Fearful Symmetry is summarized by the publisher below:

Audrey Niffenegger’s spectacularly compelling second novel opens with a letter that alters the fate of every character. Julia and Valentina Poole are semi-normal American twenty-year-olds with seemingly little interest in college or finding jobs. Their attachment to one another is intense. One morning the mailman delivers a thick envelope to their house in the suburbs of Chicago. From a London solicitor, the enclosed letter informs Valentina and Julia that their English aunt Elspeth Noblin, whom they never knew, has died of cancer and left them her London apartment. There are two conditions to this inheritance: that they live in it for a year before they sell it and that their parents not enter it. Julia and Valentina are twins. So were the estranged Elspeth and Edie, their mother.

The girls move to Elspeth’s flat, which borders the vast and ornate Highgate Cemetery, where Christina Rossetti, George Eliot, Radclyffe Hall, Stella Gibbons and Karl Marx are buried. Julia and Valentina come to know the living residents of their building. There is Martin, a brilliant and charming crossword-puzzle setter suffering from crippling obsessive compulsive disorder; Marijke, Martin’s devoted but trapped wife; and Robert, Elspeth’s elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. As the girls become embroiled in the fraying lives of their aunt’s neighbors, they also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including — perhaps — their aunt.

What I think

I must admit I am not one for ghost stories so at the first mention of ghosts i got a little miffed (i thought, ‘what a waste turning this interesting book into a ghost story’). As I read on  however the ghost just became another character and added an extra twists on the issues of identity and ethics that the book examines.

I enjoyed the relationships and issues developed in the sub characters and found them becoming just as meaningful to the plot as the main characters of the book.

A great read with some interesting (although at times slightly predictable) twists.

A note of warning, Niffenegger made a conscious effort to make sure that this book was different to her last work “The Time Travellers Wife”. It has also received many bad reviews on amazon from The Time Travellers Wife fans who left disappointed.

I have not read The Time Travellers Wife so i can not compare
however I did thoroughly enjoy this book and would love to know what you think

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