Book Review: Her Fearful Symmetry

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Okay, let's just get this out of the way: The Time Traveler's Wife is one of my favorite books of all time.

So, understandably, I was giddy, nervous, and unsure about Niffenegger's newest title (which was bought for a cool $5 million), but still did a jig when I was sent an advanced copy several weeks ago.

And it's taken me until now to want to blog about it, since I have been reflecting on it, and wanting to discuss it with my girl Nat.

In short, this is a ghost-ish story, without being a true *ghost* story. Julia and Valentina are 20-year-old twins, who do everything together, and have lived their lives within just their own orbit. So when their Aunt Elspeth dies and leaves them her London flat, they decide to take the plunge and go.

And that's when things get a bit odd.

You see, Elspeth has not yet moved on...instead, she is still here, watching the girls, as well as the painful mourning of her younger lover Robert, who lives in the same building as the twins (as do other fantastic supporting characters).

As the book progresses, however, a sense of anticipation and dread settles over the reader, and though I didn't see the ending coming, the more I think of the book, the more it makes sense to me - there is no other conclusion that would have worked. In addition to just the "ghost story" there are interwoven family secrets, love affairs, day to day life, and the struggle for identity from all the characters, but particularly the twins.

This book is filled with wonderfully drawn characters - you feel as though you truly know them, in and out, and that you reside in the flat with the twins, going through their experiences with them. Niffenegger's prose is wonderfully evocative and descriptive, and I can perfectly see the flat, can see Highgate Cemetery as Robert does, can see the streets around them.

Overall, this is a creative, well-told story with characters that will stay with you long after you finish this read - one which I read slowly, savoring and wanting to enjoy, rather than rushing through to find out what happens. This is a book for a Saturday with no commitments, a cup of tea, a rainy outdoors, and a quilt tucked around your feet to keep off the chill of the outdoors - and the story.


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