Sunday, January 10, 2010

Her Fearful Symmetry (2009)

This is the first novel by Audrey Niffenegger that I have read and it was a corker. Twins, OCD, ghosts, and cemetery tours all feature in this book. Valentina and Julia are mirror twins who inherit an apartment in London from their aunt Elspeth, twin sister of their mother, Edie. One of the provisions of Elspeth's will was that her sister could not step foot in the apartment. After living in the apartment for one year they could sell it if they wanted to. In the upstairs apartment lives Martin, a man with Obsessive/Compusive Disorder who is also agoraphobic. His wife just left him because of his demanding lifestyle. Downstairs from them lives Robert, Elspeth's younger friend/lover.
No one knows why, or is telling why, Elspeth and Edie split with no contact. Robert has possession of Elspeth's diaries but grief prevents him from reading them. When the twin girls turn 21 they leave their home in Chicago and go to live in London. Elspeth is still inhabiting the apartment as a ghost. She learns how to make her presence known and communicates with Valentina and Robert.

Both twins stood in the front hall looking solemn. "Come upstairs," said Valentina.
"What's wrong?"
"We have to show you something."
Julia followed Valentina and Robert upstairs. She was conscious of feeling hopeful.
The flat was blazing with light. The twins escorted Robert to the piano and stepped back. He saw Elspeth's handwriting.
ROBERT - 22 JUNE 1992 - E.

One thing that bothered me about the book was the emphasis on the twins being thin little Paris Hilton types. It made them seem to be closer to 13 than 21 years in age. Not only their build but the way they dressed and spoke. It made them, in my eyes, less believable and likeable.

It was very exciting toward the end and I stayed up very late finishing it. I was a little disappointed in the very end since it felt that the author had to tie up loose strings or had to add another 20 pages that I felt were unecessary and took away from the conclusion.

This is a pretty good ghost story. It had me gasping in spots. I would recommend it to a reader who likes books with a touch of horror.

My rating for this book: +++ 1/2

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