Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger (9 October — 13 October)


I was really super duper excited about this book, and I think that might have been why I didn’t like it so much. I will pause here for a collective gasp from the Blogosphere.

Recovered? Good. 🙂

The plot: Elspeth Noblin (great name, BTW) dies and leaves her estate not to her manfriend Robert, but to her twin Edie’s daughters who are also twins and who are called Julia and Valentina. Elspeth’s will stipulates that the twins must come live in her flat for a year before they can sell it, so they do. And then while they’re there they get haunted by Elspeth, who becomes a ghost (which is neat), and the reasons for the twins having never actually met Elspeth are slowly revealed (oooh, family secrets!).

Good things: I love Niffenegger’s writing, I just do, and it was all very pretty and fun and descriptive. The fact that we got to learn about Elspeth as a ghost was cool. Playing with a Ouija board is always fun. I loved Martin and I was rooting for him the whole time.

Bad things: I didn’t understand why Elspeth left all of her stuff to the twins. She called it “an experiment,” but since she didn’t seem to know she’d be becoming a ghost, I don’t know who was supposed to be monitoring the results. The big family secret is something I figured out in the first few chapters and then had to wait 300 pages to officially find out. And then it was unnecessarily complicated. The whole end-of-book storyline was really weird to me and I didn’t understand why any of that had to happen. Does no one in London have any sense? Also, Martin was the only character I really gave a crap about.

So… yes. This is a book that I would like to discuss with people, so if you have any insight, feel free to leave a comment!

And don’t think that I hated the book… I liked following along with the twins’ lives and I am totally on Team Get Martin Better. But those Bad Things prevented me from loving it.

Rating: 7/10
(RIP Challenge, Countdown Challenge: 2009)

See also:
books i done read
Literate Housewife
Devourer of Books
Stainless Steel Droppings

Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

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6 thoughts on “Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger (9 October — 13 October)

  1. Mary says:

    I agree that her name is awesome. Isn't there another famous literary Elspeth? I'm completely blanking…

    It sucks a little that you didn't particularly enjoy this because the plot of this one looked infinitely more interesting to me than that of The Time-Traveler's Wife.

  2. Alison says:

    Well, I guess there's a bit more of a plot here than in TTW (which was, to me, more of a character study in a really odd situation), in that after, oh, 300 pages there is a Plan and it is Carried Out, but that Plan is stupid and should have been put in the Circular File, so whatever.

    And I can't think of any other literary Elspeths, but I'll keep an eye out.

  3. Susan B. Evans says:

    Ok, I've read it now… and I didn't care for it at all. It was such a let down! I didn't like any of the characters, and I kept waiting and waiting for the other shoe to drop – it just never did. I was interested to see what “the big deal” was between Elsepth and Edie, but once it came to light, I just felt, meh, not interested anymore.

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