alterlisa, February 19, 2012 (view all comments by alterlisa)
I've got to admit, despite the rather lukewarm reviews that this book had received, (and I try not to read too many as I don't want to spoil
the storyline, just get a general feel for the book), I had to get it as it was written by the author of The Time Travelers Wife, my all time favorite of any genre I've read. But the reviewers were right. It was NOT the TTTW! (sigh)
That said, though I felt like I had to struggle at times to stay interested in this book, I was determined to solve the mystery despite feeling like I knew what was going to happen. Let's just say I was right but oh so wrong too! I won't rehash the whole synopsis of the book but in general two girls, twins, inherit a flat in London from their, until now, unknown aunt who is their mom's twin. They must live in the flat for a year before selling it and their parents are restricted from entering it ( I just had to know why Elspeth felt so strongly about this).The younger twins weird, almost incestuous, commitment to one another was a bit unsettling at first but very necessary for the telling of the story. At times I felt like the book was much longer than it was as it dragged on and on (and not in a good way). While the ending was and wasn't a surprise, the journey there was arduous. And the trip IS the most important thing. The characters were fascinating, at first, though at times seemed more like 13 year olds than 20 year olds, and the descriptive locale made me feel I was wandering the streets side by side with the twins. Had I not had such great expectations for it after TTTW, I probably would have enjoyed it more. Definitely a check out of the library or get used (like I did) read. And though I was disappointed in this book, I'll be back for another of Niffenegger's works but will pay more attention to the reviewers.
sarah e, September 14, 2011 (view all comments by sarah e)
This is a dark, subtle coming of age story. The characters - codependent identical twins, their ghostly aunt, her younger boyfriend, and an obsessive neighbor - are more interesting than the story itself; to me, that makes a book worth re-reading. The way the characters are coupled and recoupled and uncoupled is what drives the story.
Di, January 23, 2011 (view all comments by Di)
The thing I like about the way Audrey writes, is her ability to surprise. You will not guess the ending of this book! I could not put it down from the moment I bought it.
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Traci Sheward, January 2, 2011 (view all comments by Traci Sheward)
I avoided this book when it first came out because I wasn't fond of her previous novel and this one didn't particularly speak to me when I first looked into it. Months later I picked it up and was pleasantly surprised with the flow of the storyline. A bit farfetched, yes, but still intriguing.
After opening with the death of what turns out to be one of the central characters, to the surprising ending that I don't suspect anyone saw coming, the book presents a unique perspective on life and death. Overall, a satisfying read that I would highly recommend.
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Scribner Book Company -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Niffenegger follows up her spectacular The Time Traveler's Wife with a beautifully written if incoherent ghost story. When Elspeth Noblin dies, she leaves everything to the 20-year-old American twin daughters of her own long-estranged twin, Edie. Valentina and Julia, as enmeshed as Elspeth and Edie once were, move into Elspeth's London flat bordering Highgate Cemetery in a building occupied by Elspeth's lover, Robert, and the novel's most interesting character, Martin, whose wife is long suffering due to his crushing and beautifully portrayed OCD. The girls are pallid and incurious; they wander around London and spend time with Robert and Martin and Elspeth's ghost. Valentina's developing relationship with Robert arouses mild jealousy, and when Valentina pursues her interest in fashion design, Julia disapproves, which leads Valentina and Elspeth to concoct an extreme plan to allow Valentina to lead her own life. The plan, unsurprisingly, goes awry, followed by weakly foreshadowed and confusing twists that take the plot from dull to silly. While Niffenegger's gifted prose and past success will garner readers, the story is a disappointment. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Chicago Sun-Times,
"[M]esmerizing....[A] deeply moving story filled with unforgettable characters....[A] beautiful testament to Niffenegger's fertile imagination and love of storytelling."
by Booklist (starred review),
"With a sumptuously mournful mise-en-scene (Robert is a cemetery guide, as is the author), Niffenegger tells a gorgeously rendered, utterly bewitching, and profoundly unnerving tale of the mysteries of selfhood and death and the way love can be both a radiant and malevolent force."
by Ron Charles, The Washington Post Book World,
"Niffenegger creates such marvelous scenes of muted sadness and smothered affection that you don't entirely mind that the parts are better than the whole....[D]eliciously creepy."
by Entertainment Weekly,
"Her Fearful Symmetry's characters feel too spectral, and their insane solutions to relatively simple problems make them hard to care about. (Grade: C+)"
by San Francisco Chronicle,
"Her Fearful Symmetry glows all over with an addictive, crowd-pleasing charm....In breezy, capable prose, she builds terrific tension toward a series of last-minute turns...that finally do, in a puzzling and strange way, satisfy."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"Gimmickry, supernatural and otherwise, blunts what could have been an incisive inquiry into the mysteries and frustrations of too-close kinship from the talented Niffenegger."
The author of the phenomenally successful novel The Time Traveler's Wife returns with a spectacularly compelling and haunting second book set in and around Highgate Cemetery in London.
When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt, only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers—with seemingly little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cozy home in the suburbs of Chicago, and with an abnormally intense attachment to one another. They are twenty. .
The girls move to Elspeth’s flat, which borders Highgate Cemetery in London. They come to know the building’s other residents. There is Martin, a brilliant and charming crossword puzzle setter suffering from crippling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Marjike, Martin’s devoted but trapped wife; and Robert, Elspeth’s elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. As the girls become embroiled in the fraying lives of their aunt’s neighbors, they also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including—perhaps—their aunt, who can’t seem to leave her old apartment and life behind..
Niffenegger weaves a captivating story in Her Fearful Symmetry about love and identity, about secrets and sisterhood, and about the tenacity of life—even after death..
A dazzling novel in the most untraditional fashion, this is the remarkable story of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who travels involuntarily through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare's passionate love affair endures across a sea of time and captures the two lovers in an impossibly romantic trap, and it is Audrey Niffenegger's cinematic storytelling that makes the novel's unconventional chronology so vibrantly triumphant.
An enchanting debut and a spellbinding tale of fate and belief in the bonds of love,The Time Traveler's Wifeis destined to captivate readers for years to come.
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