BOOKS: Her Fearful Symmetry
Random House $38.99
Her Fearful Symmetry is a great book for a dark winter night. It takes place in and around London’s Highgate Cemetery and deals with love, obsession and ghosts (real and metaphoric). The book is quietly suspenseful, slowly drawing readers into the lives of an unusual set of characters before moving into a fast and somewhat frantic climax.
Elspeth has been estranged from her twin sister for years, but before dying of cancer, she decides to leave her apartment near Highgate Cemetery to her twin nieces who she has only met once. The condition: the nieces must move from America and live in the apartment before selling it. The twins’ mother (Elspeth’s sister) is not allowed into the apartment.
Julia is thrilled to inherit the apartment and have a chance at adventure. Her twin, Valentina, is less enthusiastic, but always lets Julia make the decisions. Once in London, however, Valentina begins to find some independence. She also experiences a strange connection with her aunt, which is further solidified when the twins discover that their aunt’s ghost is living in the apartment.
This all may sound a little far-fetched and silly, but if you read The Time Traveler’s Wife, you know that Niffenegger has a gift for taking the far-fetched and making it seem plausible. As she does so, she reveals depth in her characters and looks at the nature of love and control.