Thursday, January 12, 2012

Her Fearful Symmetry

1. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

I received this one from Bookmooch recently, and got to it right away since I found myself, unexpectedly, to be such a big fan of The Time Traveler's Wife. This book's plot and characters are not as intriguing, but are undeniably haunting. Where Chicago plays a role in the earlier book, Highgate Cemetery in London is the star of Her Fearful Symmetry. The author is a certified tour guide at Highgate, as is one of the main characters.

Twins Julia and Valentina inherit a flat in London from their aunt Elspeth, whom they cannot remember meeting. Elspeth is their mother's twin, but the two had an unspecified falling out before the twins' birth. Robert, former lover of Elspeth and future lover of Valentina, is our Highgate Cenetery tour guide. Martin, a middle-aged neighbor whose severe OCD caused his wife to leave him, becomes a project for Julia. I found both Robert and Martin to be more relatable and interesting characters than the twins, whose motivations often seemed unclear. It's not spoiling much to reveal that Elspeth as ghost is also a character and her motives are unclear as well as suspect. Niffenegger demonstrates again her skill for nifty organization of chapters, but the overall plot is frankly a bit flat.

For those interested in Highgate Cemetery or fans of Niffenegger, the book is an interesting read, but not as stunning or well-developed as its predecessor.

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