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.

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Beats: Florence and the Machine – Lungs

200px-Lungs_FatMIf Tori Amos, Kate Bush and  PJ Harvey had a threesome, Florence Welsh would be their love child!  Her melancholy, malice and melodic voice leads to this soulful album that grabs at your throat and forces you to listen to the end. 

In the song “Kiss With a Fist” she sings with fervor and angst about a relationship gone wrong.  She is violent in her words but her voice lulls you into submission. 

She has a unique range that takes her easily from ballads and soul singing to rocky anthems and punky angst.  I enjoy her first album and will look forward to future endeavors from Florence and the Machine. 

Four full fluttery butterflies out of five!

Books: The Salaryman’s Wife by Sujata Massey

masseyThis book had a little of everything.  Mystery, romance, action and a foreign setting made this the perfect book choice for me.  Rei is a states born Japanese-American who loves Japan and teaches English for a kitchen retail company in Tokyo.  On a long New Years Eve vacation to a snowy small town in Northern Japan she stays at an Inn with a handful of colorful characters and a murder takes place.  She gets pulled into the mystery as the translator but becomes emotionally involved when a new love interest made at the Inn becomes the main suspect.

The book takes you through many of Japan’s towns, the unspoken manners that are required and the seedy nightlife that exists in Tokyo.  I found myself unable to put the book down and while I thought I had everything figured out and just KNEW who the bad guy was…I was surprised to find I was wrong.  I love it when mysteries let me think I have it figures out and then pull a fast flip on me!  I will be checking out more of Sujata Massey’s many mysteries.  Many of them seem to be American’s working in Japan.  A fun fast read!  4 out of 5 butterflies!