Tuesday, January 05, 2010


Her Fearful Symmetry, Audrey Niffenegger, Scribner, 2009, 404 pp

I liked this novel so much, it is tempting just to gush. It must have been challenging for the author to write a follow up to The Time Traveler's Wife, although I get the impression from reading interviews with Ms Niffenegger that she is not someone who worries much about her popular standing. Like her characters, she does what she loves to do.

Her Fearful Symmetry is chock full of charming attributes: twins (two sets of them), London's famous Highgate Cemetery, mysterious parentage and ghosts. I read it directly after reading Neil Gaiman's Graveyard Book and it is truly a companion piece.

Julia and Valentina are identical and mirror twins, meaning that even down to the placement of their internal organs they are mirror images of each other. Their mother is also a twin but has been estranged from her sister since before the girls were born. Being inseparable, privileged 20 year old American girls, they have never had to actually deal with anything in life.

But the London aunt who is their mother's twin and whom they have never met, dies and bequeaths her apartment to them. Off they go to live there in rather complete innocence and all manner of odd, disturbing and finally creepy things happen.

The story is about love, passion, dependence, the problems of independence, secrets, but mostly about love. We already know that Niffenegger is supernatural when it comes to love and she proves this again in her new novel.

Romance writing takes on fresh meaning here, so whether you are already a romance reader or feel you have outgrown the genre (as I have felt in recent years) or have avoided it at all costs, I recommend you give Her Fearful Symmetry a try. You just may become enchanted.

(Her Fearful Symmetry is available in hardcover at Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

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