Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Her Fearful Symmetry

Her Fearful SymmetryHer Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had really high expectations for this book after reading The Time Traveler's Wife. I'm not sure yet if I was disappointed or not.

This is a very strange book about love and death - and the secrets that both keep. Overall it wasn't a very emotional book, it was hard to really care about the characters because, well, they were so weird. The plot was see through, all though I did really love the details. The little things that I wouldn't have thought of added a bit to the reading experience. The characters were great when taken individually. Throwing them all together into one story was overwhelming. I really started enjoying the story when the stories became more individualized.

I ranked this rather high despite my criticism of plot because the writing was so.darn.good. There were also many thought provoking points on love and grief, I often sat with the book in my lap, thinking "Wow. Just wow." I can only recommend this book if you're willing to accept the weirdness in the world that Niffenegger created.

Synopsis:  Julia and Valentina Poole are semi-normal American twenty-year-olds with seemingly little interest in college or finding jobs. Their attachment to one another is intense. One morning the mailman delivers a thick envelope to their house in the suburbs of Chicago. From a London solicitor, the enclosed letter informs Valentina and Julia that their English aunt Elspeth Noblin, whom they never knew, has died of cancer and left them her London apartment. There are two conditions to this inheritance: that they live in it for a year before they sell it and that their parents not enter it. Julia and Valentina are twins. So were the estranged Elspeth and Edie, their mother.

The girls move to Elspeth's flat, which borders the vast and ornate Highgate Cemetery, where Christina Rossetti, George Eliot, Radclyffe Hall, Stella Gibbons and Karl Marx are buried. Julia and Valentina come to know the living residents of their building. There is Martin, a brilliant and charming crossword-puzzle setter suffering from crippling obsessive compulsive disorder; Marijke, Martin's devoted but trapped wife; and Robert, Elspeth's elusive 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.


Recommended Reading:
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert

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