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
"[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)
She also has an amazing style of writing. I love that she can take an idea that is so hard to believe and make it sound like it could absolutely happen in real life. Yes, yes. So it's a bit gloomy. It actually gave me the willies a couple of times and made me look over my shoulder to make sure nothing was creeping up around me. But that's what this book is about. If you're looking for a cheery, happy book, this isn't the one for you.
I do have to give a pros and cons list, though.
Intricate (if not always likable) characters
Lots of complicated story lines
Interesting history about Highgate Cemetery
And who doesn't love ghost stories?
Confusing plot twist (not the ghost part, the twins part)
After having written it out, yep, overall I liked this book. The cons really don't spoil the book as some reviewers would have you believe. In fact, leaving some of what happens next out of the ending made me think even more about the book than if she had just come out and told us what happened to Robert. But, Audrey Niffenegger is kind of a weird writer, so not everyone will enjoy this book.
Young mom living in Japan, dealing with commute with audiobooks and knitting.
It was great how the narrator handled the different languages present in the book.
Near the end, the way Martin's story wraps up.
I think Julia was great, but my favorite was probably Martin.
I enjoyed this book because the author did not twist events to get a happy ending. Some story lines ended happy, others not so much, but all were true to the characters. The book/story was satisfying because the choices made by the characters was very... human and basic, meaning they were not without fault, but any other choice/action would have been only an illusion, and the story would have lost the essential ingredient that made it amazing literature.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
To read, to dream, to love, to experience, to aspire...
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.
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