Saturday, November 28, 2009

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

her-fearful-symmetryAudrey Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry was perhaps my most anticipated book of the year. The obvious question is, did it live up to that anticipation? For me, the answer is yes, and then some. The reason being, it was nothing like I expected. I didn't know much about the plot because I had avoided spoilers like the plague and I think everyone should, so my plot description of this one will be very brief. Niffenegger paints a story of two twins, Julia and Valentina who inherit a building in London that lies adjacent to Highgate Cemetery after their Aunt Elspeth's death. They never knew or met their Aunt Elspeth, but she will soon get to know them as she haunts the flat in the building that they live in. Also living in the building is Robert, Elspeth's husband who is a tour guide at Highgate cemetery, and Martin, a man who suffers with obsessive compulsive disorder. One of the things I loved about this novel is that everything is a character. The house itself is a character, the city is a character, Highgate Cemetery is just amazing and I'm dying to go to London now just to go on a tour of it. The human characters are just perfect. I loved them all. I'm not going to talk about each of them individually, because there are quite a few of them, but even the secondary and tertiary characters are beautiful. Niffenegger has a way of making the most quiet scenes full of beauty. Anyone who has read The Time Traveler's Wife knows this. This is a very different novel from The Time Traveler's Wife. I think the question everyone asks is "how does it compare to The Time Traveler's Wife"? And my answer is that it doesn't. I could never compare it to that novel because it's so different. Both look at human emotions and examine the strength of human bonds, yes, but they are very different stories, with very different feelings attached to them. I found Her Fearful Symmetry to be very atmospheric, my favorite type of novel. It was delightfully creepy and haunting at times, but never in a disturbing way. I've read some reviews that take issue with the ending of the novel, saying that it was too rushed; that some characters weren't treated fairly, and honestly, I don't yet know how I feel on that. I can see where those people are coming from, but at the same time, I like Niffenegger's ending. I would've liked a little more resolve with one character plot, but that's my only complaint. Niffenegger can rest assured that I'll be happily waiting in line for her next book to arrive. She's a force!

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