Sunday, April 4, 2010
Her Fearful Symmetry
I chose an oddly appropriate book for Easter weekend - Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. It's got quite a bit to do with death and resurrection. I bought this when it first came out because I LOVE The Time Traveler's Wife, but it was not well reviewed and was so criticized that I was afraid of disappointment and put it off for a while. I think putting distance between the reviews and the actual reading paid off, and my still somewhat lowered expectations made me realize this probably wouldn't be as good as as The Time Traveler's Wife.
However, I actually really liked it! It's very weird, which might have something to do with the negative reviews, but really, The Time Traveler's Wife isn't exactly normal either. But, it doesn't focus on a cemetery and death and ghosts like Her Fearful Symmetry does. I don't usually enjoy ghost stories, but this was very well done. I think overall it was extremely well written, with a whole cast of interesting characters who I came to care about, a mystery I wanted to unravel, and a plot I wanted to unwrap like a candy bar - slowly at first, savoring the anticipation, then quickly ripping through the package to get to the end.
Her Fearful Symmetry is a love story, a truly unique love story, and actually several love stories packaged together. Elspeth and Robert. Edie and Jack. Valentina and Julia. Martin and Marijke. All of the characters have their good and bad sides, and they're all intriguing. Martin has an extreme case of OCD and won't even leave his flat. Valentina and Julia are twins who can't quite seem to separate and still dress alike at 20. Elspeth is dead. (That's not a spoiler; it's on the book flap and happens in the first few pages.) Elspeth leaves her flat to Julia and Valentina, and Martin and Robert also have flats in the same building, so all of the characters are intertwined. The condition of the girls inheriting the flat and money is they must live in the flat for a year and their parents, Jack and Edie, cannot enter the flat. Why? Well, you'll just have to read it to find out.