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)
Although it was an intriguing ghost story I found it difficult to enjoy the characters - except, of course, Martin. The characters seemed, to me, to be from another universe where childhood selfishness never ends. Maybe Audrey Niffenegger is asking us to look at the obsessions and compulsions inside of ourselves - we who think we're normal.
I really enjoyed the Time Traveler's Wife quite alot, but this follow-up was quite a disappointment. The novel started strong and about 1/4 of the way in I actually thought I was going to like it more than the Time Traveler's Wife. Unfortunately, when the "plot twists" and "revelations" started to be revealed about 1/2 way though, not a one of them were surprising and I had figured out almost every turn in the book well before the author had the reader arrive there. I found myself hoping something would happen that I didn't see coming throughout the entire second half all the way down to the last couple minutes. That thing never came, and that was detrimental... especially in such a plot heavy narration.
The best part of this novel is the narrator, and for that I gave the audio book an extra star.
After almost 3 hours of this book, I quit. I don't care for the characters or the plot. I have a 3 hour car trip tomorrow and decided I just couldn't do it w/ this book.
I was perfectly prepared to suspend disbelief for the Time Traveller, and I loved it, but the characters in this novel are just badly drawn, unsympathetic, unconvincing. The best thing about the novel is its great title. The idea of setting it in Hyde Park Cemetery is brilliant...everything else is ghastly. A boring, sordid little tale.
Beautifully atmospheric and written with a keen ear for dialogue, I think Audrey Niffenegger's second novel is the best ghost story since Shirley Jackson's THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE. The story is sublime and full of surprises. The narration is superlative. I'm already looking forward to this author's next novel.
I really enjoyed listening to this book. The narrator did a great job with the British and American accents. The story line was odd, just like Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife, but it was really a wonderful book! It kept my interest and I found myself trying to find housework to do so that I could listen to the book. A great listen!
I really enjoyed listening to this book. The characters were well-developed and the relationships were interesting and complex. I found myself wanting to see the twin (Valentina) succeed. What a unique concept for a story - the imagination of the author never ceases to amaze me.
What I like about Audrey Niffenager's books is that, they're not always about happy endings, yet you end up feeling satisfied. The characters push through an obstacle, maybe not getting what they want, but appreciating the conclusion and moving on with their lives.
The narration was fine. There are some readers I enjoy more than others, but as long as they're not falsely dramatic, or there isn't too much "background music", I can listen to about anything.
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