Saturday, July 23, 2011

Book Review: Her Fearful Symmetry

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

From the same author who brought us The Time Traveler's Wife, comes a twisted tale of heartbreak, love, and death.  With her new novel set around London's Highgate Cemetery, Niffenegger proves that death is only the beginning.  The novel opens with a letter that alters the fate of every character.  The letter informs Valentina and Julia Pool that their English aunt, Elspeth Noblin, has died of leukemia and left them her London flat.  There are, however, two conditions to this inheritance:  that they live in it for a year before selling it and that their parents not enter it.  The two American girls never met their English aunt; they only knew that their mother, Edie,  (who was Elspeth's twin) had not spoken to her sister in over 20 years.  Julia and Valentina are seemingly normal but have an abnormally intense attachment to one another.  Upon reaching their 21st birthday, the girls move to Elspeth's flat, which borders the famous graveyard.  While there, they come to meet the building's other residents.  There's Martin, a brilliant and charming crossword puzzle setter suffering from a crippling case of OCD.  Because of the disease, he hasn't left his apartment in years, and he ultimately forces his devoted wife, Marjike, to leave because she feels trapped.  Robert, a scholar of the cemetery and Elspeth's elusive lover, lives downstairs.  As the girls become entangled in the fraying lives of their aunt's neighbors, they also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including their aunt, who can't seem to leave her old apartment and life behind.
London's Highgate Cemetery 
Niffenegger's long-awaited second novel is an enchanting, ghostly entertainment.  It's a concoction of twins, sisters, and lost loves, along with some delightfully quirky neighbors.  Although it's a little on the  long side (400+ pages or 12 disc  if you listen to it on tape), the chapters are short--perfect if you're busy with only a few minutes of wondrous reading to spare.  My mom and I got the book on tape last week when we were driving to Savannah.  As soon we'd get in the car,  neither of us wanted to talk; we just wanted to listen.  I absolutely loved The Time Traveler's Wife, so I had high expectations for a new time-twisted tale.  All of them were met; it was a truly delightful read (well actually listen), and I'd suggest it to anyone who's craving a little paranormal activity in their life.  Plus, it was a nice change to all the usual love story books I tend to read; don't get me wrong romance runs rampant, but it also involves ghosts, a cemetery, and all sorts of interesting plots.  

My Rating:*****

No comments:

Post a Comment