I really liked Audrey Niffenegger’s first novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife. In fact, I liked it so much that I didn’t see the movie because I didn’t think the story could be replicated on the big screen in a way that made sense. And for a linear thinker like myself, the fact that she was able to tell me that story without getting me utterly confused and lost is a testament to her writing skill.
I just finished her second novel, Her Fearful Symmetry, and I while I liked it okay, I think that many among you will absolutely love it. Because it’s a ghost story.
I’m not really into vampires/werewolves/ghosts/wizards/hobgoblins, etc., and so if I had known it was a ghost story, I might not have ventured into this one. But I didn’t, so I did. And I’m glad I did.
The story takes place in London, where I had visited just last summer. So I thought that was cool. And while there is a significant cast of characters, Niffenegger does a pretty good job of developing each of them. Including, most importantly, the twenty year-old twin girls Julia and Valentina, who are the focal point of the story. As soon as I realized there were going to be twins, I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. Despite the fact that I couldn’t see them. But she does a good job of bringing you along to appreciate not only the twins’ similarities, but also their differences.
The twins’ mother, Edie, who lives in Chicago, and their recently-deceased aunt, Elspeth, were also twins. And while those two sisters had not been in contact in many, many years, when Elspeth died, she left her flat in London to Julia and Valentina, subject to a few conditions. And when the twins take the offer and move to London, living in the same building as Elspeth’s mourning lover, Robert, the story begins to take shape, and the twists and turns (and ghosts) come out in droves. I have to confess that at one point, I had to read and re-read a certain part of this book multiple times, and refer back and re-read an earlier part multiple times, to try to get my brain to absorb some of the plot points. But I did it, and so can you.
I think this is the closest thing to chick-lit that I’ve read in as long as I can remember. And it wasn’t a bad thing.