Una Inquietante Simetría
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Una Inquietante Simetría

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3.21 of 5 stars 3.21  ·  rating details  ·  65,015 ratings  ·  10,461 reviews
Six years after the phenomenal success of The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger has returned with a spectacularly compelling and haunting second novel set in and around Highgate Cemetery in London.

When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt, only kn...more
411 pages
Published 2010 by Salamandra (first published January 1st 1999)
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Mark
I was a huge fan of Niffenegger's first book, Time Traveler's Wife. I loved that book so much that I avoided the movie like the plague because, from the trailer, I could tell it would not due the book justice and I didn't want to spoil my feelings towards it. Needless to say, I was eager to read Niffenegger's next work, Her Fearful Symmetry. Be forewarned if you haven't read the book, this will include spoilers.

Following twins Julia and Valentina, they inherit their aunt's flat after her death u...more
Scarlet
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Jay
This was difficult to put down but I deliberately tried to read slowly beause it was such a pleasure to read. Niffenegger is one of the finest contemporary writers and noone does longing and stymied love better than she does.

This book reminded me of "Time Traveler's Wife" as well as "The Lovely Bones." The stories center on an apartment building right off of Highgate Cemetery in London. One apartment belongs to Elspeth Noblin who dies on the first page of the book and bequeaths the apartment to...more
Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)
This is a very tricky book to review.

I thoroughly enjoyed Her Fearful Symmetry. Having heard plenty of mixed reviews about this one, I wasn't sure how I would find it. On top of that, it was soon due back at the library, and I had 4 other library books calling my name desperately. I needn't have worried. This book definitely got me thinking and I like it when a book does that - when it stays in my mind for a long time after I actually finished reading it.

Her Fearful Symmetry is definitely a cha...more
Kathy
Like so many other readers, I was enchanted by The Time Traveler’s Wife. There was a willing suspension of disbelief on my part (which goes against my skeptical and cynical nature) but the story was sweet and engaging enough to pull it off. Not so much with Her Fearful Symmetry. Again, through at least the first 2/3 of the book, I was willing to suspend disbelief and go with the story. But then it just got ridiculous beyond the point where I enjoyed the story anymore.

Essentially a ghost story,...more
Marigold
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Jennifer
Another Audrey Niffeneger book where I'm not sure what or who I'm supposed to root for. (Reading the Time Traveler's Wife I often thought the words "BREAK UP WITH HIM, ALREADY" while the rest of the world was weeping over DOOMED LOVE).

Also, soulmates aren't real, and you don't have one.

Back to the book at hand...I had lunch in a local cafe while Niffenegger was being interviewed about this book at the next table, and it made for GREAT eavesdropping, and I got hooked on the premise of this book....more
Teresa
I read Niffenegger's first novel before the days of GR; and I remembered when I decided to rate it, I wavered between 3 (liked it) and 4 stars (really liked it). I ended up opting for 4 stars, because I did remember so much of it due to its sense of place and its unique storytelling. Her second novel has these same elements -- her strengths are obviously her imaginative story lines, which she roots in concrete reality. But the story, which started out strong, lost its way long before the weak en...more
Malcolm
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
--William Blake, "The Tyger"

When an acclaimed author (Audrey Niffenegger) takes a phrase from an inscrutable poem ("The Tyger"), readers (such as myself) are apt to expect a great story. Without a doubt Niffenegger's prose is elegant, her place descriptions (London and Highgate Cemetery) are exceptional, and her intricate plot has great promise.

That promise is not fulfilled.

Niffenegg...more
Kim
Wow, disappointing! Kept waiting for this to get good, and it never quite did. The two major "surprises" are painfully transparent well before they actually happen (I was hoping that I was being misled, because it couldn't be that obvious, could it?), most of the characters aren't very sympathetic, and the pacing is slow. Glad I didn't give into the impulse to buy a copy for myself, and instead borrowed it from the library - I'd be even more upset...

And of course, I'd be more forgiving if I hadn...more
Jackie
Just some thoughts: I loved this novel...but in a completely different way than I love The Time Traveler's Wife. I wasn't sure what to expect so I tried not to have any expectations, which is exactly the attitude to have going into this book. It has what now seems to be Niffenegger's style of writing that's smart & funny & quirky but somehow all seems to come together easily. It has a few curveballs, so don't bother reading ahead (like I did...only to confuse myself until I read straight...more
Rachel
The fact that this book is titled after a line in one of my least favorite poems ever* should perhaps be a strike against it, but the title is quite fitting and somehow makes even more sense in this context than in Blake's use of it. This is the story of two sets of twins (hence the symmetry) who have an extremely odd system of relationships -- "system," because the story explores the highly varied and yet remarkably similar relationships between the four twins. To say too much about these relat...more
Margo Kelly
Oh my - this is the BEST book I have read in AGES! If I could give it more stars in the rating I would. Having just finished this book, I'm having flash-backs to the "Women in Literature" classes I took at the University of Puget Sound. I loved those classes because we would debate/discuss the significance of women and their relationships with other women and with men. I wish I could have one of "those" discussions regarding this book!

This book is excellent on so many different layers and levels...more
Nancy
"The Time Traveller's Wife" this is not; TTW was a poignant story about normal people trying to live in, and make sense of, an abnormal situation. In contrast, "Her Fearful Symmetry" has a shortage of even moderately well-adjusted, let alone likable, characters and a storyline that resulted in a significant number of eye rolls and sighs of "good grief" (simultaneously, on occasion) particularly in the first ~1/3. I thought the 2nd 1/3 was more enjoyable as the twins became more individual, Rober...more
Mrs. Bowers
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lori
Many thanks to Regal Literary for sending me an ARC, and also to Audrey for accepting my invitation to appear here for a Q&A session!!

I don't think there is a more fitting time of year for curling up with this novel - Chilly mornings, Damp afternoons, wrapped in a blanket watching the leaves change color and fall to the ground....

It's a ghost story but so much more.

It's a story about transition, about love, about separation, about strength, about deciet, about abandonment. It's hopeful, and...more
Amy
Update-1/6/10. I'm amending my review of this book, and making a new rule that I will not do reviews for at least a day once I've finished. What changed for me here was a lack of connection with the characters. I can't rate this as five stars because I really, in retrospect, didn't like any of them all that well or how they behaved.

I awaited this novel with eager anticipation and read it so fast, I will have to revisit it. I hate plot summaries, that is what Amazon and book jackets are for, so...more
Wealhtheow
When Elspeth dies, she leaves her papers to her boyfriend and her flat to her twin's children, the twin sisters Julia and Valentina. J&V are very pale, very slim, and although they're nearly 21, very unformed. They have no friends, no lovers, little education, and no interests besides watching tv together. They are astoundingly boring.

Meanwhile, their upstairs neighbor is struggling with OCD and a passionate love for his wife, who has left him because of it. And their downstairs neighbor is...more
Sue
I don't even know where to start with this book. The fact that it was set in and near Highgate Cemetery in London gave it a creepy, gothic, horror movie kind of quality. One of the main characters is the ghost of the late Elspeth Noblin. The description of the twin sisters, Julia and Valentina, portrays them as almost ghost-like as well. They are whispy, pointless, lackluster, colorless young women who have no identity outside their twin-ness. The upstairs neighbor is a recluse who suffers from...more
Molly Magro
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeannine
Such a disappointment.

While I certainly didn't expect this to be a clone of The Time Traveler's Wife (and I hate when authors write the same novels over and over, like, say, Jodi Picoult), this book was exponentially "less than" TTTW.

The main characters (Julia and Valentina the twins, Robert Fanshaw, Elspeth) were not likable or warm. I had some sympathy for Valentina and her desire to split from her overbearing twin, but the scheme concocted to acheive this was over the top (even more over the...more
N
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Brooke
I definitely don't know how to review this one. For context, I adored Time Traveler's Wife to pieces, and I normally keep my distance from anything that even hints of romance. The entire time I was reading Her Fearful Symmetry, I had a hard time remembering that the same author wrote both books. HFS has a nice gothic atmosphere, which reaches from the tone to the ghostly elements to the setting (London's Highgate Cemetery). I felt like it had more in common with Tana French's (awesome) mysteries...more
Moira Russell
I am now BITTER LIKE A BITTER, BITTER THING that this book, however panned it was, got its author a zillion-dollar advance and huge print run, while Peter S. Beagle's A Fine and Private Place, a wonderful book that actually combines the supernatural and the natural world beautifully, is still barely known. Pah.
Amy
this book is like an episode of the twilight zone on crack combined with a shakespeare tragedy.
Rhonda
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Shannon
I've been desperately seeking The Right Book. Unfortunately, The Right Book isn't from a specific genre, or by a specific author or set in a certain period in time. That would be too easy, you see. The book I'm looking for is one that winds its way into your heart and soul, takes you deep into the characters' lives and then squashes your heart, rips it from your chest and leaves it beating weakly on the table while you weep. Those books are hard to come by. At most, I find one or two a year. But...more
*Christie*
I'm vascilating between three and four stars. I lean towards three only because The Time Traveler's Wife is one of my favorite books of all time and so my expectations were high.

What a creepy, twisted book! So fun! This is the story of enmeshed twins who live in their aunt's haunted flat in London. I especially enjoyed the sub-plot of Martin and Marijke. I think my favorite part had to be the history of Highgate Cemetary that was woven in throghout the book. Also, the poetry references in the b...more
Boof
Throw a huge cemetery, a cold & wintery London, bizzare mirror twins, a ferrel kitten and a recntly dead Aunt into a pot together and the result is a wonderfully quirky, melancholoy, spooky book.

The story is set around Highgate Cemetery in London where a recently dead Elspeth has left her appartment to her twenty year old American nieces, Julia and Valentina, who are mirror twins. When the twins arrive in their new home they soon learn that they are not alone as it appears their Aunt Elspeth...more
Lena
As someone who loved The Time Traveler's Wife, I was very much looking forward to Audrey Niffenegger's new novel. The story it tells promised to be intriguing – Julia and Valentina, 20-year old identical twins, unexpectedly inherit the London flat of their mother's own estranged twin. The flat borders the atmospheric Highgate Cemetery, and moving into it pulls the girls out of their sheltered Midwestern lives and into the strange world populated by the building's other residents. These include M...more
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Who else thought that Elspeth... ? *spoilers ahead* 9 201 Jul 29, 2014 05:32AM  
Billerica Public ...: Did you figure out how it would end? 1 16 Mar 12, 2014 11:35AM  
SGCHS Book Club: Have you finished? 1 4 Feb 24, 2014 09:27AM  
Title 8 50 Jan 03, 2014 10:30PM  
What are your worst endings? 16 219 Dec 26, 2013 02:49PM  
Simple Questions 31 279 Nov 12, 2013 05:41PM  
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Audrey Niffenegger (born June 13, 1963 in South Haven, Michigan) is a writer and artist. She is also a professor in the MFA Creative Writing Program at Columbia College Chicago.

Niffenegger's debut novel, The Time Traveler's Wife (2003), was a national bestseller. The Time Traveler's Wife is an unconventional love story that centers on a man with a strange genetic disorder that causes him to unpre...more
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“There are several ways to react to being lost. One is to panic: this was usually Valentina's first impulse. Another is to abandon yourself to lostness, to allow the fact that you've misplaced yourself to change the way you experience the world.” 158 likes
“Listen, sometimes when you finally find out, you realize that you were much better off not knowing.” 132 likes
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