Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Review: Her Fearful Symmetry

I quite enjoyed this book. I've not read The Time Traveler's Wife, so I'm not colored by any disappointment of this not living up to Niffenegger's earlier work. Normally I don't care for books that tread into the fantastic, but I was taken with this one.

Twins Julia and Valentina Noblin inherit their estranged Aunt Elspeth's flat, on the border of London's Highgate cemetery. The girls move in and quickly discover that there is something mysterious about the flat; it appears to be haunted by Aunt Elspeth's ghost. In addition to Elspeth the ghost, the girls are introduced to their troubled neighbors, including an obsessive-compulsive agoraphobic, and Elspeth's boyfriend, obsessed with the cemetery and crippled by grief. The twins are rather odd too, and they fit in well with this troubled lot.

This story drew me in because it was just strange enough to be interesting and fresh. The setting in and around Highgate Cemetery was delightful, and Niffenegger's writing is atmospheric. Perhaps if I read more ghost stories I would be more critical of this one, but the fact is that I do not. For the reader who stays within the realm of realism, this book makes a nice diversion. I was not at all disappointed by the ending, and I will surely seek out more of Niffenegger's books.

Audrey Niffenegger, Her Fearful Symmetry (Scribner, 2009) ISBN: 1439165394

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