Synopses & Reviews
Audrey Niffenegger's spectacularly compelling second novel opens with a letter that alters the fate of every character. Julia and Valentina Poole are semi-normal American twenty-year-olds with seemingly little interest in college or finding jobs. Their attachment to one another is intense. One morning the mailman delivers a thick envelope to their house in the suburbs of Chicago. From a London solicitor, the letter informs Valentina and Julia that their English aunt Elspeth Noblin, whom they never knew, has died of cancer, and left them her London apartment. There are two conditions to this inheritance: that they live in it for a year before they sell it; and that their parents may not enter it. Julia and Valentina are twins. So were the estranged Elspeth and Edie, their mother.
The girls move to Elspeth's flat, which borders the vast and ornate Highgate Cemetery. Julia and Valentina come to know the residents of their building. 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.
Author of one of the most beloved first novels in recent years, Niffenegger returns with an unnerving, unforgettable and enchanting ghost story, a novel about love and identity, secrets and sisterhood, and the tenacity of life -- even after death.
"Niffenegger's ghost story is a stirring meditation on doubleness featuring twins Valentina and Julia; their mother, Edie and her twin, Elspeth; the two halves of Highgate Cemetery in London; the Western duality of body and soul. Audie Award winner Bianca Amato gives a brilliant performance: Julia and Valentina's voices are differentiated just enough to tell them apart; Elspeth is Oxbridge refinement, but her twin has Americanized her accent. Amato's greatest challenge is Martin, a brilliant crossword setter whose neuroses prevent him from leaving his flat. Amato gives him a wit and allure that let the listener become as entranced with him as Julia does. This well-paced and lustrous audio will mesmerize and delight. A Scribner hardcover (Reviews, July 27). (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The endurance of love animates this gothic story set in and around Highgate Cemetery in London. Niffenegger's prose can be wearyingly overblown, but she has a knack for taking the romantic into the realm of creepiness, and she constructs a taut mystery around the secrets... It's no small achievement that the revelations are both organic and completely unexpected." -- The New Yorker"Bewitching...Lovers of Niffenegger's past work should rejoice... Her Fearful Symmetry is as atmospheric and beguiling as a walk through Highgate itself." -- Susann Cokal, New York Times Book Review (front page)"Frighteningly smart... Millions of readers who enjoyed The Time Traveler's Wife ... will find a similar theme in Her Fearful Symmetry: romance that transgresses all natural barriers.... Deliciously creepy." -- Ron Charles, Washington Post"A compelling modern-day ghost story set in and around London's atmospheric Highgate cemetery...An engrossing love story that crosses to the 'other side,' Symmetry offers an inventive take on sibling rivalry, personal identity and what it's like to be dead." -- People (3 1/2 stars)"Niffenegger piles on plenty of action... The book's end [is] a genuine surprise... Elspeth's death ... is moving, as is Robert's surprising immediate reaction to it... [Martin] is intricate and fascinating, especially because of Niffenegger's ability to get inside his head.... Niffenegger is especially good on the subject of twins... [She] deftly plumbs the depths of her subject, showing a profound and imaginative understanding." -- Martin Rubin, Los Angeles Times"[A] gravely buoyant new novel of phantom loves and all-too-tangible fears." -- O, the Oprah magazine"Niffenegger is an extraordinarily sensitive and accomplished writer, and Her Fearful Symmetry is a work of lovely delicacy." -- Lev Grossman, Time"Following up a phenomenal blockbuster is not easy, but Niffenegger rises to the task with Her Fearful Symmetry. Fans will find plenty of rewards in her clever ... [and] unique modern ghost story... Her descriptions transport the reader directly into a moody Victorian landscape of beauty and death... Mesmerizing... A deeply moving story filled with unforgettable characters... A beautiful testament to Niffenegger's fertile imagination and love of storytelling." -- Mary Houlihan, Chicago Sun-Times"An intriguing look at kinship and the danger of getting what you wished for." -- Good Housekeeping"Entertaining... The reader is pleasantly carried along by the author's ability to create credible characters and her instinctive narrative gifts." -- Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
From the bestselling author of The Time Traveler's Wife, comes a spectacularly compelling second novel set in and around Highgate Cemetery in London.
When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leavers 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.
About the Author
Audrey Niffenegger is a visual artist and a guide at Highgate Cemetery. In addition to the bestselling novels The Time Traveler’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry, she is the author of three illustrated novels, The Three Incestuous Sisters, The Adventuress, and The Night Bookmobile, and the editor of Ghostly. She lives in Chicago.