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Her Fearful Symmetry: A Novel | [Audrey Niffenegger]

Her Fearful Symmetry: A Novel

When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt; they only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers - with seemingly little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cozy home in the suburbs of Chicago, and with an abnormally intense attachment to one another.
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Publisher's Summary

When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt; they only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers - with seemingly little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cozy home in the suburbs of Chicago, and with an abnormally intense attachment to one another.

The girls move to Elspeth's flat, which borders Highgate Cemetery in London. They come to know the building's other residents, including Martin, a brilliant and charming crossword-puzzle setter suffering from crippling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Marjike, Martin's devoted but trapped wife; and Robert, Elspeth's elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery.

As the girls become embroiled in the fraying lives of their aunt's neighbors, they also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including - perhaps - their aunt, who can't seem to leave her old apartment and life behind.

Niffenegger weaves a captivating story in Her Fearful Symmetry about love and identity, about secrets and sisterhood, and about the tenacity of life - even after death.

©2009 Audrey Niffenegger; (P)2009 Simon & Schuster

What the Critics Say

"[S]he has a knack for taking the romantic into the realm of creepiness, and she constructs a taut mystery around the secrets to be found in Elspeth's diaries and the lengths to which she will go to reunite with her younger lover. It's no small achievement that the revelations are both organic and completely unexpected." (The New Yorker)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (904 )
5 star
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3.6 (255 )
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4.1 (247 )
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  •  
    Katherine Marietta, GA, United States 01-21-12
    Katherine Marietta, GA, United States 01-21-12 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
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    Story
    "Not expected- But that is what makes it good"

    I read many reviews and see how frustrated many are by the "plot twist at the end" that shall not be named.

    I say...this is Niffenegger delivering another sci-fi type story in the form of a feminine novel. What she does so well in Time Traveller's Wife- she does again here. You almost forget the non-realistic plot device for the pure character journey. The characters are AMAZING!

    This is a ghost story. The unexpected will, and did, happen. I for one, was delighted.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    michael c. hughes 01-12-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
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    87
    17
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    "Best of the Year"

    This wasn't really my sort of book but a friend suggested it & I felt pressured. It is like no other book. I hated the reviews who didn't think is was believeable. It's fiction people!! You have to roll with it a little! I loved it the whole way.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Del Venice, FL 07-06-10
    Del Venice, FL 07-06-10 Member Since 2006

    Delpatina

    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
    ratings
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    451
    8
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    1
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    Overall
    "It deserves more than 5 stars"

    What a wonderful story, I just wanted to keep listening, it was like a magnet drawing me to it each day. The reader was excellent as she made each person come alive so you felt all the feelings the writer put into this novel.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Val Roanoke Rapids, NC, USA 03-27-10
    Val Roanoke Rapids, NC, USA 03-27-10 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Disappointing"

    Although this book grabbed me from the beginning, it took a weird and sinister turn about two-thirds into it. It's certainly an interesting idea for a story, but it led me down a trail that I just didn't want to go, so I turned it off and deleted it from my playlist. I'm sorry I wasted a credit on this one.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katie Mentor, OH, United States 02-24-10
    Katie Mentor, OH, United States 02-24-10 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    26
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    Overall
    "it started out alright..."

    I was really enjoying this book at first but then it became ridiculous!!!! I had no problem with the ghost it was the behaviors and motivations of the living sister that drove me to such frustration and annoyance I was actually shouting back at the narrator. The choices made by this character were so transparently a mean to forward the plot and without foundation in reality that I am left disgusted with the author. This is disappointing as I liked her first book so much.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristy Long Beach, CA, USA 01-21-10
    Kristy Long Beach, CA, USA 01-21-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    3
    1
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    "Great Story But Blah Ending"

    I, too, bought this audiobook because I loved The Time Traveler's Wife by the same author. The story and characters were interesting and I enjoyed the story until the ending. To me it was a disappointment and didn't live up to the climax the story "seemed" to be heading in. I agree with the reviewer that said the narrator was odd and difficult to connect with.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shanna Navarre, FL, USA 01-20-10
    Shanna Navarre, FL, USA 01-20-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "Wow...just wow!"

    I was absolutely blown away by this book. The plot line was amazing. It was slightly predictable, but still very powerful. I enjoyed it much more than Time Traveler's Wife. The narrater could have done a little better job, there was something about her that I just didn't like very much. I certainly hope Niffenegger keeps writing novels. She has an amazing talent!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cheryl Chicago, IL, United States 01-10-10
    Cheryl Chicago, IL, United States 01-10-10 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    53
    ratings
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    407
    27
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    "Interesting, captivating, great read"

    I really liked this one. It was interesting, captivating, mysterious, and different. An interesting idea looking at souls, twins, and what we are willing to do in moments of desperation. Also I found the relationships between the characters interesting and surprising as well. Ahhh . . . what and who we will betray and settle for - to attain something desired.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lcookie 12-19-09
    Lcookie 12-19-09 Member Since 2003

    Lalectora

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "If you must read it....go to library..."

    I was anxious to read Ms. Audrey Niffenegger new work; but, I just could not get into it as it failed to catch my interest. The American twins, Julia and Valentina, were ghostly on their own and lacking of real substance. All the characters had some serious flaws to include the dead aunt's beau, Robert, who stalks the twins for weeks/months upon their arrival in London. The plot gained some momentum upon their arrival in London to claim the flat and money left by their unknown mother's twin sister Elspeth. Their aunt Elspeth lives as a ghost in their flat overlooking a Victorian Cemetery, and appears to care for the twins, as she pines for her lover Robert. All of this while she gains on strength and wins the twins confidence. The twins'relationship that borders in the incestuous and bizarre, and their fascination with older men does not make it better. The entire story's premise was unlikely and the end was a wreck! If you expect the same wonder from reading the Time Traveler's Wife, think again, not sure what the author had in her mind. As it is, I wasted my money since I was not able to stomach the last third and skipped to the end only to be totally dissapointed. So,if you must read it then check it from your local library and donate the money to someone who needs it. Or better, skip it and preserve your mental health.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Betania Carlsbad, CA, United States 12-06-09
    Betania Carlsbad, CA, United States 12-06-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    44
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    78
    23
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    "nowhere near as good as Time Traveler's Wife"

    I liked Time Traveler's Wife very, very much, and listened to it more than once, something I don't usually do. So I was very excited to get Niffenegger's next novel. However, this novel was just okay. The characters are interesting and some I cared about, although occasionally the motivations and actions of the twin main characters didn't feel convincing to me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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