Wednesday, December 15, 2010

'Her Fearful Symmetry'- Review

Publisher: Random House

ISBN: 978-0-099-52418-2

Length: 482 Pages

Opening Line:

'Elspeth died while Robert was standing in front of a vending machine watching tea shoot into a small plastic cup.'


Having read Audrey Niffenegger's novel 'The Time Traveler's Wife' and being blown away by it, I hoped that her follow-up novel 'Her Fearful Symmetry' would be just as good.

Then when I read the blurb, the intrigue that it created convinced me to give this novel a go:

'When Elspeth Noblin dies she leaves her beautiful flat overlooking Highgate Cemetery to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina Poole, on the condition that their mother is never allowed to cross the threshold. But until the solicitor's letter falls through the door of their suburban American home, neither Julia nor Valentina knew their aunt existed. The twins hope that in London their own, separate, lives can finally begin but they have no idea that they have been summoned into a tangle of fraying lives, from the obsessive-compulsive crossword setter who lives above them to their aunt's mysterious and elusive lover, who loves below them and works in the cemetery itself.'

Overall, I was very disappointed with this novel. The plot began with promise and I particularly liked the parts about Elspeth's transition into 'living' as a ghost. However, as the book progressed, I felt the plot unravel and it just became absurd.In fact in parts, the plot had a tinge of bad taste about it.I particularly disliked the resolution to the story, I just felt that it was put there for shock factor, rather than to move the story to its conclusion. Elements I did like however, was the sub-plot of Martin in his attempts to overcome his obsessive behaviour, to win back his wife and also the information about the history of Highgate cemetery.

The characterisation within this novel was good, however I felt that the characters were not as well developed as the characters within 'The Time Traveler's Wife'. Even though the 2 main characters within 'Her Fearful Symmetry' are lovers, I felt that their relationship lacked the tenderness that 'The Time Traveler's Wife' did.

The pace of the novel was balanced,it was the content that I had a problem with. I like original novels, particularly those with a darker atmosphere for example, 'The Vet's Daughter' by Barbara Comyns, however, 'Her Fearful Symmetry' lacked the atmophere of the later.

As you can probably tell, I didn't enjoy reading this novel and fear that 'The Time Traveller's Wife' makes Audrey Niffenegger a 'one hit wonder'.


  1. Sorry to hear it wasn't too good. I've been dying to read it.

  2. I really wanted to read this novel too. I don't know about you, but I always find when I enjoy one novel by an author, any follow up novels are never quite as good.

  3. I will read 'The Time Traveller's Wife' first ... and then decide.