Her Fearful Symmetry
I'm still reeling from the ending of this truly messy novel. I really wanted to like this especially when many book bloggers whose opinions I respect just raved about it. But I'm so disappointed. In fact, I want my money back!
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger is about two twenty-one-year-old American twins who inherit a flat in London from their dead aunt. Their aunt Elspeth was also a twin, estranged from her sister for 21 years. There's a mystery there and the solution is hidden in Elspeth's papers, the bulk of which the twins are not allowed to touch. The twins move to London and spend their days aimlessly wandering around the city. They meet Martin, an obsessive-compulsive man and Robert, the boyfriend of their dead aunt, both of whom live in their building. Elspeth is now a ghost trapped in her flat. She soon starts haunting the twins. Sounds good? Yes, that's exactly what I thought but I was wrong!
Siamese twins by Audrey Niffenegger (from her website)
The novel started out just fine and gripping in its way but I just couldn't sympathize with any of the main characters. I found Elspeth annoying, Robert boring and creepy and the twins just plain flaky. The only people I found charming where the suppporting cast: obsessive-compulsive Martin and his Dutch wife Marijke. Just two people in love who somehow make it through in the end. Why couldn't the book just be mainly about them? Now that would have been a lovely novel!
I did appreciate the background setting of Highgate cemetery. The history of which is captivating and it made me want to pick up more novels by one of the cemetery residents, Mrs. Henry Wood (I loved East Lynne). But a setting does not a book make. Just when the story starts to get interesting it seems to spiral out of control. Ouija boards, a spirit of a kitten, a ghost in high heels, distasteful family secrets and out-of-body experiences. Eek! It was way too much! I don't want to give most of the plot away in case some of you want to read the book but suffice it to say that I don't recommend this novel. It was cheesy and just ultimately unpleasant.
I almost have the feeling that Niffenegger had a great idea for a novel but she just didn't know how to build it up and how to end it. She seems to have done a rush job. I wonder if she had a deadline because of her five million dollars advance? Hmm....
Have any of you read this? What did you think? If you have reviewed it, please leave a link to your review.