Friday, July 16, 2010

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Mirror twins Julia and Valentina Poole inherit the flat in London belonging to their aunt, who is their mother's twin, after her death. The stipulation is that they both move to London and live in the flat for a year before anything can be sold or any other changes made. Living in the building is Robert Fanshaw, their aunt Elspeth's lover, and Martin, a man who's wife has left him and suffers from OCD and cannot leave the building. The building itself backs up to Highgate Cemetery, where Robert works as a tour guide. After the twins move in strange things start to happen and they realize they are being haunted by the ghost of their dead aunt. Each trying to create a life for themselves in London, one of the twins longs for being free of her twin sister. They do everything together and she wants to break free of this routine that she feels is blocking her life and what she wants to do. Through conversations with their dead aunt through a Ouija board and automatic writing, one of the twins comes up with a plan that will give her a life of her own, but the cost is one that she never could have imagined.

This was very weird, very creepy, very Gothic. Reminded me a little of The Virgin Suicides. It kept me reading, but when certain secrets were revealed I had to reread them about 4 times and I am still not sure I understand what happened. The ending I did not understand at all, but I was pulled through this book by the story of these twins, and was just waiting for the tragedy to hit them that I felt was inevitable, and the betrayal that I did not see coming and would change every one's lives forever. Valentina is an incredibly likable character, her sister Julia is very annoying, and the ghost of her aunt Elspeth made me cringe when I realized what was going to happen. More character driven than anything else, this is one story that will stay with you, haunt you, for quite awhile.

4 stars

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