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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

Critic Reviews

"[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 Ratings

Overall

  • 3.6 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    257
  • 4 Stars
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  • 2 Stars
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    58

Performance

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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    200
  • 4 Stars
    144
  • 3 Stars
    61
  • 2 Stars
    14
  • 1 Stars
    3

Story

  • 3.7 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
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  • 4 Stars
    123
  • 3 Stars
    109
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    24
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Betania
  • Carlsbad, CA, United States
  • 12-06-09

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

  • Overall

Enjoyable story, good narrator

I found that like most good ghost stories, it was also a love story. The characters were well-defined and it was by turns, funny, sad and touching. I really enjoyed the narration of this book and will look for others books narrated by Bianca Amato now.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Incredibly well written

The book is so well written you get lost in the language. I found the story wonderful, fun and tragic; engaging. How can you not like mirror twins, an OCD victim, ghosts and ancient cemeteries? It wreaks gothic!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Terri
  • Gilroy, CA, USA
  • 11-20-09

Unpleasant, predictable, and dull...

Loved Time Travelers wife; hated this. Both the plot and characters were filled with wasted potential. The plot "twists" were predictable, and the characters thoroughly unlikeable and uninteresting. Even a "fantasy" story needs to have characters behaving in a believable fashion.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

And the point was?

Be careful what you wish for. I think the old "Monkey's Paw" short story already covered this ground. Sad. I really like Timetraveler's Wife.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Liked it but could not give it 5 stars!

To start out with I was thrilled that my wait was over for Audrey Niffenegger's next book. I really enjoyed "Time Traveler's Wife" and loved Audrey's N. writing style. I was not disappointed in this book either and the way she paints a story with words simply amazes me.

I listened to an interview with Audrey N. before the release and knew the book was a ghost story so I expected a somewhat supernatural storyline.

After listening to the book I understand that not everyone will be drawn to this story like the "Time Traveler's Wife", but keep in mind this is a whole different kind of story.

I thought the story was good, the characters believable, and the narration by Bianca Amato 5 stars, but what disappointed me and kept me from giving it 5 stars is the last few chapters of the book felt rushed and the ending was not developed like it could have been.

I would reccomend this book if you like a supernatural twist in your reading. If you are expecting something similar to "Time Traveler's Wife" I would look else where!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Too strange

This story started out well and I was looking forward to the twins learning and developing as they had their experiences in London and with the other characters. Instead, the story took a strange and disturbing turn which was, to quote another reviewer, "icky". I listened to the end of the story, but there was never any real redemption after the story took the strange turn. I would not recommend this book. A better choice and book I really enjoyed was The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Could have great....

but it just turned out WEIRD!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

boring and strange

The story was weird and didn’t keep me engaged, the characters seemed immature for their age and not much was believable. The major conflict doesn’t really get resolved and takes only a few min of the story in the end. Would not recommend this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

wondrous

I haven't yet read The Time Traveler's Wife, so I can't make a comparison the way most of the reviews do. I can say that I loved this book and found it wondrous and compelling and very much unique.

It reminded me most of The Thirteenth Tale, a book I read on the page and loved. Her Fearful Symmetry took me into a dreamscape of partiality and wholeness, of wonder and horror, and was generally delightful.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful