Her Fearful Symmetry-Review

So I spent all evening Sunday and all morning Monday chugging away through this book.  Her Fearful Symmetry was published a while ago, but I put off reading it so that the hole that The Time Traveler’s Wife left in my heart could heal.  I was worried that Her Fearful Symmetry was going to be a total U-Turn from her writing style in The Time Traveler’s Wife, but the story was still just as captivating. And, well, weird. Not to mention a little confusing.

I’ll try not to get into the details, but basically the story begins with the death of Elspeth Noblin, the aunt of Valentina and Julia Poole.  In her will, she asks the sisters (and identical twins, mind you) to live in her flat in London for a year before selling it or doing what they will with it. The twins’ parents are also not allowed to enter the flat at any time. The twins comply and move to London. There they meet Martin,  who has severe OCD ( I certainly relate to him well) and whose wife leaves him to escape his never ending rituals throughout their flat.  Then they meet Robert, the “boyfriend” shall we say, of Elspeth, whom is a tour guide at Highgate Cemetery and is writing his dissertation on said place. (Did you know Karl Marx is buried there? Neither did I.) As I mentioned earlier, the twins are inseparable. For being identical, they are opposites in personality. Julia is convinced that they are going to be together forever, while Valentina wants to go to college, get married, and have a life separate from Julia. (She’s getting awfully tired of Julia telling her what to do all the time). Enter Elspeth, who joins the story in ghost form, trapped in her flat that Julia and Valentina now reside in. At first she can’t be heard or seen, but eventually gains enough strength to be heard through a ouija board. (Did I spell that right? Doubt it.) Yes. I know. Anyway, Valentina comes up with this crazy plan to “kill herself” so that she can escape Julia and have her own life.  Some more stuff happens, including bad things, and yeah, if I say any  more, I’ll obviously spoil the ending for you. That’s my synopsis right there.

I was very impressed by Audrey’s portrayal of Elspeth as a ghost, and delving into what life would be like as a ghost without getting too creepy and whatnot.  She also gives us a glimpse into the lives of twins, and what it would be like if we saw another one of ourselves all the time. The book itself was very easy to get into, and I literally only put it down to eat and sleep. However, it wasn’t nearly as gripping as Audrey’s other works. That could be good or bad, because after reading The Time Traveler’s Wife, I cried off and on for 3 days or so. I didn’t have that problem here. I did form a connection with the characters, but it wasn’t as deep as in other books I’ve read.  I still feel rather conflicted about this book, mainly because of how it ended.  The book had the right amount of complexity and detail to keep you curious and keep you reading.  However, I was disappointed, and rather conflicted about the ending. It wasn’t a horrible ending I suppose, and it wasn’t exactly a happy ending. But it kind of leaves you hanging, asking yourself, “Uh, what just happened??!!!” I still don’t understand exactly why everything played out as it did and from the little information given at the end I can’t really create a personal epilogue.  But what do I know? Maybe Audrey intended it to be that way. Still, I can’t help but feel like the story was incomplete. Something was missing that would have made the book stand out from other books I’ve read.

All in all, this book was worth the read, though can’t see myself reading it again (I don’t like reading books over again anyway). It was enjoyable to read though.  As with most of Audrey Niffeneger’s books, I would definitely rate this PG-13 at least, but wouldn’t recommend it to anyone younger than 18 for sure. I was thankful that this novel wasn’t nearly as graphic as The Time Traveler’s Wife (which should really be rated R) but it still contained some content that I wasn’t very happy with. Call me a snob, or a prude, will you, but I have standards.

So that’s what I got to say about that.

What should I read next???

-Shelby

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