19 January 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Not comparing this to The Time Traveler’s Wife was hard for me. I’ve read it several times (book clubs, etc) and is one of my favorite books. But I knew going in that this was a very different subject and different book. It was hard for me not to compare it, but I’ll do the best I can with it…

The good is that the descriptions the author uses in this book is amazing. The cemetery, the town, the people… I felt like I was right there, I can see the trees, the twins, the way they move. That part was so very well done that it almost made up for the slow moving plot, but not quite.

The middle of this book dragged pretty badly. It was kind of like “okay, already”. I thought the twists were also very predictable, I think there was a little too much foreshadowing. The plot idea was actually very intriguing, but the execution was lacking a bit.

The worst was the ending. It was disjointed from the story and a little confusing. Why? What? Huh? It was… unfinished.

I would give it 2 stars, but the writing is fantastic, that it gains a star.

Read this if the description intrigues you, but try to not go in with preconceived notions, this ain’t The Time Traveler’s Wife (gosh, can you imagine having to follow up to that?)

Six years after the phenomenal success of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger has returned with a spectacularly compelling and haunting second novel set in and around Highgate Cemetery in London.

When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt; they only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers — with seemingly little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cozy home in the suburbs of Chicago, and with an abnormally intense attachment to one another.

The girls move to Elspeth’s flat, which borders Highgate Cemetery. They come to know the building’s other residents. There is Martin, a brilliant and charming crossword puzzle setter suffering from crippling obsessive-compulsive disorder; Marjike, Martin’s devoted but trapped wife; and Robert, Elspeth’s elusive former 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, who can’t seem to leave her old apartment and life behind.

Niffenegger weaves a captivating story in Her Fearful Symmetry: about love and identity, about secrets and sisterhood, and about the tenacity of life — even after death.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Book count for 2010: 6
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