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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


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  • Overall

Not a patch on The Time Traveller's Wife

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.

  • Overall
  • Judy
  • Fairfax, VA, USA
  • 10-16-09

Seductive and Entertaining

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.

  • Overall
  • Heather
  • Spartanburg, SC, USA
  • 10-14-09

Great Book & Narrator

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!

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • EZ
  • 08-06-10


I loved The Time Traveler's Wife. This book started off okay and then deteriorated to beyond ludicrous. I was so disappointed.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Elizabeth
  • Saint Paul, MN, United States
  • 01-23-10

A bit of suspense, mystery, romance and humor

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.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Anna
  • Genoa, IL, United States
  • 01-15-10


Her Fearful Symmetry is an interesting story that is very well narrated. Some characters were more developed than others, and the story didn't take the path I would have chosen. However, it is well written and I was engaged throughout. I would recommend this audiobook.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Carmen
  • calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • 11-26-09


Victorian-inspired specters and suppressed emotional states meet 21st century love triangles and deep, dark family secrets. Sounds good, too bad it's not.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Not my cup of tea

I really loved the Time Traveler's wife, but I didn't like this book by Audrey Niffenegger. I didn't make sense to me and it was kind of depressing. Not worth a credit.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful