Amy's Reviews > Her Fearful Symmetry

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
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's review
Jan 06, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: un-put-downable
Read in October, 2009

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 let me synopsize. London, Highgate Cemetery, Twins, Love, Death, OCD, Grief, Ghosts. Again, Niffenegger's theme is love. There are two love stories at the heart of this novel: the love of twins, and love that is cracked, but not broken.

At first, I thought there was a third: love that is broken by death. But as I write this review, having finished the novel a mere half an hour ago, I have to take it back. All of the lines of the novel point out love that is changed by death, but never broken.

Again, Niffenegger turns our expectations of a ghost story and a love story inside out, and leaves this reader with a new perspective on familiar concepts. In particular, the title, which I puzzled over for the vast majority of the book, became completely clear in the end. The characters are rich and well-drawn, each was an individual, and vividly portrayed. As with The Time Travelers Wife, each character makes moral choices that make sense within the narrative, but one has to question in the broader sense.

However, it is this complexity of choice that has fascinated me about Neffenegger's writing. She makes the fantastical so real, and her characters so clear, that how her characters react is completely understandable. In short, I loved this book almost as much as The Time Travelers Wife, my second favorite book of all time. In presenting a view of life beyond the veil it reminded me of The Lovely Bones, as a new take on what happens after you die. As a story of twins, I gained insight into a world that Isn't part of my experience. As a novel of love, I am reminded: love is never perfect, love changes over time, but it is seldom broken.
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Comments (showing 1-5)

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James Now I have to read this book, as if the book jacket hadn't already seduced me at Logan Airport last week. Well said, Amy.

message 4: by Daisy (new) - added it

Daisy Amy, what did you think of the ending? I found this book thoroughly fascinating and I am so eager to discuss with people who have read it! If you want to message me so we can talk and share spoilers freely please do!

Jenny Wells I really wanted to like this book and I did! But only gave it three stars..."I liked it." I wanted to feel the same rooting and angst for Elspeth and Robert as I did Henry and Clare, but never held the same emotional investment. The twists were fantastic, but I too couldn't invest in the characters' stories the same way. As a result, with my broken-up time to read, it took me a long time to finish it.

message 2: by Daisy (new) - added it

Daisy Jenny wrote: "I really wanted to like this book and I did! But only gave it three stars..."I liked it." I wanted to feel the same rooting and angst for Elspeth and Robert as I did Henry and Clare, but never held..."
Jenny - I liked this book, but I agree that it didn't elicit the same feelings as Henry and Clare did.

Dani Amy ~ I loved your review! I just did not care that much about the characters and the whole morality issue. Maybe it was the whole dry British thing? As a mother of twins I really wanted to understand the symmetry issue but was unable to. Loved Martin & Marijke and enjoyed his struggle and plot line. Even the little Kitten on Death was more interesting than some of the main characters. Again *TTW* is one of my favorite books of all time and I look forward to reading for the third time.

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