Review Blog

Apr 29 2010

Her fearful symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

cover image

Jonathan Cape, 2009. ISBN 9780224085625.
(16 - adult) Recommended. When Elspeth Noblin dies, she leaves her London flat to her nieces who are mirror twins, even though she is estranged from her own twin, Edie, their mother. Julia and Valentina are delighted to leave Chicago and go to live in the flat that overlooks Highgate Cemetery. They feel that their futures will begin. When they arrive they become entangled with the lives of Robert, Elspeth's former lover, Martin who makes crossword puzzles and doesn't leave his flat and the ghostly image of Elspeth herself, who is stuck in her apartment.
After thoroughly enjoying The time traveller's wife, I was delighted to read another book by the formidable Audrey Niffenegger and I was not disappointed. Although there wasn't the lure of a wonderful love story in Her fearful symmetry, the complexities surrounding the two sets of twins was compelling and the real setting of Highgate Cemetery sets it apart from traditional ghost stories. Niffenegger does not hesitate to go into the realms of the unexpected with this story and her exploration of what it would be like to be a ghost is riveting. Her characters are well drawn and the struggle that an individual twin can go through to have a life of her own is quite fascinating. There are many unexpected twists and turns and a surprise ending, which made me consider what are ethical actions for a long time after I finished reading.
The book will satisfy readers who like well-written, intricate fantasy and ghost stories.
Pat Pledger

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