Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger


  Her Fearful Symmetry is a book about twins, London, and the supernatural. Julia and Valentina Poole are twenty-year-old, identical twins that live in the suburbs of Chicago. Their mother, Edie, also has a twin, named Elspeth. While Edie lives in Illinois, Elspeth lives in London, England, where the two are originally from. The reader finds out that the elder pair of twins had a falling out earlier in their lives, and do not speak to each other anymore. Elspeth is unmarried, but has a relationship with Robert, who lives in the flat below her. Their flats are next to the Highgate Cemetary in London, an expansive cemetary where many famous and well-known people have been buried.
     Sadly, Elspeth dies of an illness, leaving Robert alone in the world. In her will, she leaves her flat in London to Julia and Valentina on two conditions: they live in it for a year before selling it and that their parents never step foot inside it. After much debate in the Poole household, Julia and Valentina are allowed to go. Eventually, they meet Robert, and Martin, the obsessive-compulsive who lives in the flat above them. The girls soon find out that Elspeth's spirit lives in the flat, and they begin to communicate with her. I won't give any more of the plot away yet if you want to read this, so stop reading now if you don't want to know what happens later!
     I loved this book, for the most part. Audrey Niffenegger is a beautiful writer, her words flow nicely and encapture the reader's attention. The supernatural part was enticing, and the cemetary sounded stunning. I did not really care for the ending though. SPOILER WARNING. At the end, Elspeth's spirit kills Valentina, because Valentina wants to escape her overbearing twin, and instead of later returning Valentina's spirit into her body, Elspeth takes her body instead. She claims that she tried, but could not return Valentina. Robert, who had loved Valentina after they got to know each other, left Elspeth(in Valentina's body), and he never returns to her. Valentina lives on as a spirit in the flat, where Julia decides to stay. Eventually, Valentina is able to escape the flat and roams the cemetary as a ghost, meeting new and old ghosts in the burial grounds. I had really liked Valentina as a character, and I think she deserved a much better fate than this. Julia meets a man, and they have a nice relationship. I did like the end for Martin, who overcame his OCD and reunited with his wife. Other than Valentina getting a terrible ending and Elspeth's betrayal, I really liked this book. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes supernatural books, or even just wants an interesting, well-written read.

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