Books: Her Fearful Symmetry

Her Fearful Symmetry

Audrey Niffenegger’s second novel is a ghost story that reads almost like a fairy tale.  Twin sisters Julia and Valentina are left their estranged Aunt’s London flat with the instructions that they have to live there for 1 year and their Mother, their Aunt’s twin sister, mustnt step foot in the flat.  The sisters are spoiled 20 year olds living in Chicago with Mom & Dad looking for the next thing to try and this seems like the perfect adventure.  This is their chance to grow up, and for one sister, she thinks it’s her chance to seperate slowly from her clingy, bossy twin. 

The relationship between the twins is strained with only Valentina feeling the strain as Julia the bossy twin decides their every move and every fashion choice.  They dress alike, they sleep in the same bed, they eat the same meals.  The character’s in their new flat slowly seperate the thoughts between the twins.  Aunt Elspeth is a ghost in their flat and makes herself known to the twins.  Elspeth’s lover Robert lives downstairs and starts an odd relationship with Valentina that makes Elspeth jealous and the upstairs shut in Martin gains relief from his OCD’s in befriending Julia. 

The relationships are well developed and thought out and the Historic Highgate Cemetery that the building overlooks even seems to be it’s own character in the book.  The book is told from many perspectives and the most interesting perspective seems to be when told from that of the ghost of Aunt Elspeth.  Manipulative in person, I believe she magnifies that quality as a ghost trapped in her flat. 

A beautifully haunting tale that I think most people with an open mind to spirits will enjoy.  You won’t think of ghosts in the same way. 

Four out of five milky white ghost like butterflies.

4 Responses

  1. Oh! I am so glad you reviewed this book…I really loved The Time Traveler’s Wife and of course I am a sucker for all ghostly stories and tales of hauntings. I am definitely going to pick this up!

    Ever read The Seance, by John Harwood? Or Affinity (or The Little Stranger), by Sarah Waters? I think you may like one or both or all of them!

    • Oh…I’ve never read any of these books! You keep making my book list grow. Darn you! I have my next book club book sitting waiting on me first and foremost….a trip to the library is near though as my book list keeps growing!

  2. Elspeth is one ghost that I sure wouldn’t want to be sharing a flat with!! I agree, a very interesting take on a ghost story.

    • Thank you for the comment! I think Valentina was my favorite character but reading this book and reading The Time Traveler’s Wife I almost get the feeling that she wrote this book before she wrote TTTW. The characters seem weaker and the plot seems a bit thinner. You could see where she was taking the story before she revealed it. However I still found it enjoyable and I still found it much different than any other ghost stories out there.

      I visited your blog and will be following your journey through your 101 in 1000 challenge. Happy Reading! I look forward to getting some recommendations from your reviews! 🙂

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