Monday, October 5, 2009
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
Julia and Valentina Noblin are twenty year-old twins living in Lake Forest, Illinois and close doesn't begin to describe the bond between the two girls. When their Aunt Elspeth passes away, the twins are left her flat in London, to occupy for at least one year before they can sell it. There are other conditions such as their Mum and Dad cannot enter the flat, which seems odd since Mum is Elspeth's twin, Edie. The flat borders Highgate Cemetery which lends itself perfectly in setting and imagery to the story. Robert lives in the flat below and works as a volunteer guide at the cemetery while writing his dissertation. He was also Elspeth's lover and has been bereft since her death. Julia and Valentina settle into their new flat and life in London with the help of their lawyer, Mr Roche. Julia is the dominant twin who usually decides what the girls will wear and do with their day which Valentina is beginning to find tiresome. But Valentina is the first to discover a presence in the flat and before long it becomes apparent that Elspeth is still in their midst. What will this mean to Robert, who has lately become attracted to Valentina? Julia is not thrilled at the idea of her twin having a relationship, or a life, that doesn't involve her and conflicts arise. Julia is also determined that Martin, who lives in the flat above, should be freed from his life with OCD. Unable to leave his surroundings for years he has put his marriage at risk. These two become a crutch for each other in their times of need. Rachel, from Book Snob wrote that I should get ready to suspend belief when starting this book. It was excellent advice. The events that unfold are written so cleverly by Niffenegger that anything becomes possible and you are left breathless, both eager and afraid of what will happen next. Her Fearful Symmetry could have been twice as long, I didn't want this story to end but the characters will be with me for some time to come. If you're interested in a book that will have you reading while at the stove or brushing your teeth, watching the clock at work so you can get back to your story, then this is for you.