Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Her Fearful Symmetry - Book Review

UK (cover-left) vs US (cover-right)

Book: Her Fearful Symmetry
Author: Audrey Niffenegger
Publisher: Scribner
Pages: 401
Read: 4/30/2010
Genre: Adult Fiction, Ghosts, Paranormal, Mystery

Review By: Elyssa

First Line: Elspeth died while Robert was standing in front of a vending machine watching tea shoot into a small plastic cup.

I have not read the popular Time Travelers Wife by Niffenegger, I will not be comparing or contrasting between the two books.

While at the library I picked this book up off the rental shelf because I have seen posts about this book several times throughout the site. I found this book to be interesting, odd, weird, and completely different then anything I have ever picked up before which made the read interesting. However, with that being said, I'm not sure if I liked the book but I also cannot say I hate the book either.

Storyline #1. An estranged aunt has passed away leaving a flat in London along with a small fortune to her twin nieces, Julia & Valentina. They are connected the most annoying way because they can't seem to do anything without each other. Shortly after they moved into the flat, their connection between each other was severed because their differences were coming to the surface. Julia is a strong person but seems to be ok with not doing much with her life. Meanwhile, shy Valentina wants to do something with her life and go to school.

Storyline #2. Then there was Martin. Oh, Martin was the best character. A bit sane but very OCD and never leaves his apartment. Yes, I mean sane! This man makes crossword puzzles for a living. How smart do you have to be to make those let alone manage to figure out 5 answers? He is smart, his OCD problem just debilitates him. Martin's love decided she could not handle his OCD behavior anymore. She moved away and not just down the street but over a few countries. He can see her again if he can manage to leave the apartment and show up at her door. Is is possible for this crazy man to get over all of his fears to find the women he loves? Maybe. Maybe not. Plot twist... Or does he go for the young beautiful Julia?

Storyline #3. Robert is Elspeth's lover who now lives in the same building as her nieces. (What kind of name is Elspeth? I couldn't get over that oddness.) He gives tours at the Highgate Cemetery which happens to being practically in their backyard. Robert then becomes Valentina's boyfriend which to me is just a wee bit odd. Yup, just a bit. Aunt, niece, aunt, niece? Well, since the aunt is dead and the niece looks like her, she will do.

Storyline #4. Julia and Valentina's mother, Edwina, is Elspeth's sister. They are estranged for a reason. The secret between those two come out after so much time has passed. Juicy Juicy gossip! You'll find out if you pick up this unique book.

Storyline #5. Elspeth is a ghost trapped in her apartment after her death. She does little tricks to get the twins to notice her. I think it is strange that they are not freaked out with some of the things that are going on. No one is calling the ghost busters! Nope, life is weird for the twins and once Elspeth in the picture life just gets that much weirder.

Storyline #6. This storyline mixes many of the characters together at the end. Valentina thinks her life with Julia is so bad yet she feels that she can't walk away from her. Elspeth and Valentina come up with a scheme that will make you shake your head and say, "What in the world." They drag Robert into this ridiculous scheme and he drags Martin into it as well. Needless to say, with all of the details that could go wrong it would not be surprising that something would go array. Highgate cemetery ends up with one less body in the end.

Personally, I was very disappointed in how the end of this book played out. I was also very disappointed in what Elsepth does to her kin. It is not right at all. Due to what Elspeth does, the ending will make you stop and think about some of the selfishness in this world. I would of liked more of a wrap up for the ending. It just did not hold the closure that I was looking for. There were a few ideas where loose ends could of been tied up.

Rating: 3.5 Kisses


"I'm bored with knitting. I've taken up arson."

"There was only the cemetery itself, spread out in the moonlight like a soft grey hallucination, a stony wilderness of Victorian melancholy."

“Being in love is…anxious,” he said. “Wanting to please, worrying that she will see me as I really am. But wanting to be known. That is…you’re naked, moaning in the dark, no dignity at all…"


Zakiya the Booknerd said...

Great review Elyssa! Good quotes :)

Jen the bibliophile said...

Okay, I still laugh when I read the line "What kind of name is Elspeth?". What kind of name is Elspeth anyway? Not my favorite (sorry all Elspeth readers)

Oh, and I've taken up arson myself, knitting has never been enough to keep me grounded. Excellent work Lyss!

Anonymous said...


Hawk said...

Thanks. Knitting can be a hassle. I'm still learning but I've wanted to light some of those project up!! Burn baby Burn!

I've never meet anyone with the name Elspeth. I wonder what the background behind that name is :)

Hawk said...

Cover War!!!

I added the US cover art to the review. Let me know which cover you vote for!

I'm loving the UK cover art!

Zakiya the Booknerd said...

If the US is on the right, then the UK is much better to me. 8)

Jen the bibliophile said...

I prefer the US cover. I like the creepiness of it, with the branches and the coloring. I tend to prefer books with no people on them. That's not always the case, but mostly.

Hawk said...

Sometimes they seem even more mysterious when the cover art gives nothing away.

Ang said...

I personally like the US cover more

Hawk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hawk said...

Ding End Round 1

Cover Art US - 2
Cover Art UK - 2

We have a tie right now.

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