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Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Her Fearful Symmetry (edition 2010)

by Audrey Niffenegger

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5,653429755 (3.39)337
Title:Her Fearful Symmetry
Authors:Audrey Niffenegger
Info:Vintage (2010), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 496 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:twins, tvillinger, life choices, ghosts, spøgelser, OCD

Work details

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Recently added bybeebarth, aldeena, private library, alykat94, fjii86, nate48281, top10, longhorndaniel, MMnBB, MsMarzz
  1. 142
    The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (obscurelens, sruszala, lahochstetler)
    obscurelens: Story about twins and ghosts. Darker than Her Fearful Symmetry, but I think it's far better than this.
    lahochstetler: Gothic tales of devoted twin sisters, love, and death.
  2. 81
    Highgate Cemetery: Victorian Valhalla by Felix Barker (lilithcat)
    lilithcat: For those who wish to know more about this book's setting, I highly recommend Barker's. It includes an essay on the history of Highgate, one on well-known burials, and has a section of wonderful photographs. Highgate is very unlike the manicured, geometrically laid-out modern cemeteries, and, if those are the only ones with which you are familiar, Barker gives you a sense of the atmosphere this young American women encountered.… (more)
  3. 96
    The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (Cecilturtle, krizia_lazaro)
  4. 41
    The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (heidialice)
    heidialice: If you couldn't get enough of Martin and Marijke, or were hoping for a something a bit more like "The Time Traveler's Wife" try "The Gargoyle".
  5. 20
    The Mercy of Thin Air by Ronlyn Domingue (cataylor)
    cataylor: Both books deal with a spirit trapped in the afterlife who observe the living.
  6. 20
    The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb (VictoriaPL)
  7. 20
    A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb (wegc)
    wegc: Both books are from the point of view of a ghost interacting with the real world, wanting love.
  8. 54
    The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (heidialice, Othemts)
    heidialice: Similar in setting, and both ghost stories, these are very different books, but fans of one should be interested in the other.
  9. 10
    A Dark-Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both books are about devoted sisters whose relationship turns sour with deadly results.
  10. 10
    Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon (Ciruelo)
  11. 32
    A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle (Ciruelo)
    Ciruelo: Both feature a single man with a devoted attachment to a graveyard and its restless ghost.
  12. 00
    Soulmates by Miranda Glover (HollyMS)
  13. 00
    Rooms by Lauren Oliver (sturlington)
    sturlington: Also a ghost story combined with family drama
  14. 00
    Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both novels feature Highgate Cemetery.
  15. 00
    Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood (becksdakex)
    becksdakex: Death, family, ghosts.
  16. 00
    Miss Garnet's Angel by Salley Vickers (Othemts)
  17. 00
    26a by Diana Evans (terran)
  18. 01
    The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman (Miranda_Paige)
  19. 01
    The River King by Alice Hoffman (Miranda_Paige)
  20. 24
    The Other by Thomas Tryon (Ciruelo)

(see all 21 recommendations)


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» See also 337 mentions

English (419)  Dutch (4)  German (2)  French (1)  Hungarian (1)  Croatian (1)  All (428)
Showing 1-5 of 419 (next | show all)
Reviewers seem to either love or hate this book. I'll confess that I found it creepy, and not in a good way; the twins' relationship is just bizarre and unhealthy, and I can't believe that they grew up affluent in Chicago and weren't, at some point, sent to therapy to deal with that. The relationship between ghost-Elspeth and Valentina starts out well enough, but then you start to suspect that the ghost has tricked her, and, well... ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Like many others, I found most of the characters completely unlikeable. I didn't even like Martin, but that might be because the last THREE books I've read have had major characters with OCD, and my first reaction to him was "Not OCD AGAIN." I did like Marijke, I felt sorry for Jack, and I found Valentina fairly sympathetic, but for the most part I really disliked them all.

And yet... I really liked the book. I loved the way it portrayed London. Between seeing the Paddington movie (don't judge; it's a lovely movie, even though it's in no way the Paddington I loved as a child) and reading this book, I felt like I spent my weekend in some kind of fantasy-London where everyone lives in a quaint old wood-floored row house surrounded by books and odd neighbors and various scruffy specimens of taxidermy. The creepiness had a weird charm to it. I thought the characters mostly got what they deserved. I would recommend it to readers who like an interesting setting and don't require a happy ending. ( )
1 vote VintageReader | Jul 9, 2017 |
Elspeth Noblin has died of cancer, and she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American young women never met their English aunt, only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers--with seemingly little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cozy home in the suburbs of Chicago, and with an abnormally intense attachment to one another.The girls move to Elspeth's flat, which borders Highgate Cemetery in London. They come to know the building's other residents. There is Martin, a brilliant crossword puzzle setter suffering from crippling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Marjike, Martin's devoted but trapped wife; and Robert, Elspeth's lover, a scholar of the cemetery. As the girls become enmeshed in the lives of their aunt's neighbors, they also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including--perhaps--their aunt, who can't seem to leave her old apartment and life behind. I was excited to read this novel, having read Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler's Wife which I loved. However, this book was a disappointment. The plot was interesting but there were such huge leaps of plot that some of the decisions made by characters didn’t make any sense—particularly the ending. 3 out of 5 stars. ( )
  marsap | Jun 30, 2017 |
As a huge fan of Niffenegger's first novel, I was eager to read this new book and wanted to enjoy it. So it was with much regret that I eventually set it aside mid-way through the book. Life is too short to continue reading a book that hasn't hooked you. I'm not sure if it was just the mood I was in, but none of the characters were especially likeable or sympathetic. And the story was just a bit too bizarre and unbelievable for me.
  dorie.craig | Jun 22, 2017 |
"Un'inquietante simmetria" è purtroppo uno di quei libri che si possono amare alla follia o, viceversa, odiare visceralmente. Dopo il grandissimo successo de "La moglie dell'uomo che viaggiava nel tempo", l'impossibilità di apprezzare appieno questo romanzo come ci saremmo aspettati lascia un po' spiazzati.

Lo stile della Niffenegger è come sempre molto elegante, accurato ed evocativo, forse un po' più cupo e tormentato rispetto al suo primo romanzo, ma è altrettanto vero che i due lavori non hanno praticamente niente in comune l'uno con l'altro, anche se restiamo comunque a un ottimo livello narrativo. La penna è della Niffenegger e si percepisce da ogni parola, ogni frase e ogni paragrafo.

La trama è assolutamente inquietante, ingarbugliata ma con uno scarso approfondimento psicologico dei personaggi; le tematiche affrontate sono moltissime, a partire dal rapporto fra gemelle, la morte, i rapporti familiari, la vita dopo la morte, le fobie psicologiche, il sacrificio e non ultimo il più importante: l'egoismo. Tutti i personaggi manifestano diverse forme di egoismo dalle più innocue alle più abissali come quella che porta al sacrificio di una persona amata pur di sopravvivere, nonostante la consapevolezza che il proprio tempo sia ormai scaduto.

In definitiva un libro ben scritto ma decisamente paradossale in molti dei suoi passaggi, e in altri decisamete poco credibile. Benchè disposti ad accettare che sia l'egoismo la colonna portante di tutte le azioni e i comportamenti dei personaggi, dobbiamo ammettere che partendo dal grande "segreto" delle sorelle Edwina e Elspeth, all'improvvisa attrazione fra Robert - ex compagno di Elspeth - e Valentina, per finire agli innaturali comportamenti tenuti dai genitori delle gemelle e dai colleghi di Robert tutto porta ad una realtà assolutamente distorta e quasi senza senso. La maggior parte di questi personaggi sembrano agire seguendo la logica personale dell'autrice ma poco hanno a che vedere con la vita reale.

E' vero che il romanzo ha delle tracce di fantasy, costituite soprattutto dalla presenza del fantasma di Elspeth nell'appartamento delle gemelle, ma tutta la grandezza narrativa si accentra proprio nel voler inserire "il fantastisco nel reale". E' questo quello che rende inquietante e particolare il romanzo nel suo genere. Nessuno trova preoccupante un assassino che uccide con una sola parola in un fantasy con elfi e draghi, perchè è perfetto il contesto del "fantastico" e la nostra mente non si trova minacciata, il campanello d'allarme scatta quando inseriamo la stessa figura in un contesto reale e l'autore riesce a far credere con maetria che quell'uomo potrebbe essere il tuo vicino di casa che conosci da tutta una vita. Ecco perchè "Un inquietante simmetria" inizia bene ma finisce semplicemente nel ridicolo, perdendo ogni traccia di inquietudine: perchè perde la capacità di soggiogare la mente.

Il lettore non si spiega assolutamente come possa un uomo che ha perduto la donna che ama da un anno, una donna più adulta e più grande di lui e che amava anche se non soprattuto per questo, perdere la testa per la nipote di questa che conta quasi dieci anni meno di lui. Che poi, in realtà, Valentina è servita solo come rimpiazzo perchè lui non ha mai smesso palesemente di pensare e cercare di contattare la compagna perduta... Ma allora dove sta l'amor proprio della stessa Valentina? Quanto vile e passivo può arrivare a essere Robert quando poi si ritrova complice della morte di una persona che sta iniziando ad amare per seguire la follia di un morto?

Il rapporto fra gemelle è stato presentato come qualcosa di malato, perverso e soffocante dall'autrice. Indubbiamente avere un gemello/a è qualcosa di unico e incomprensibile, per chi non ha avuto la fortuna di provarlo, ed è altrettanto vero che il rapporto fra i due può sfociare nell'amore morboso o nell'odio assoluto ma in entrambi i casi, per quanto i sentimenti possano essere soffocanti e contrastanti, la decisione di Valentina è semplicemente ridicola in tutta la sua interezza, fa quasi scoppiare a ridere quando il lettore si rende conto di quanto irreale, folle e debole sia questa ragazza, la sua illogicità è quasi commuovente... Non avere il coraggio di staccarsi dalla gemella che si prende cura di lei da tutta la vita, anche se con sprazzi incredibili di egoismo che potevano essere tranquillamente contrastati con un minimo di sicurezza in più da parte della stessa Valentina... Con la morte!

Il resto è semplicemente troppo irreale e illogico da poter commentare senza finire inevitabilmente per fare un riassunto di tutta la trama. Perfino le reazioni dei genitori delle gemelle sono sempre sembrati strane e innaturali, dall'inizio alla triste fine del romanzo.

Una storia che vale veramente la pena di leggere in tutta questa follia priva di gusto (vogliamo davvero dimenticare anche la scena di sesso con lo zombie, davvero, è realisticamente troppo) è quella di Marijke, Martin e Julia. Julia che, con il suo carattere irruente, decide a tutti i costi di aiutare le schizofrenie di Martin per aiutarlo ad uscire di casa, per incoraggiarlo a tornare alla vita, dalla moglie che lo ha lasciato perchè incapace di sopravvivere con le manie del marito nonostante il suo grande amore per lui. Julia che con la sua giovane età finisce comunque per subire il fascino un po' inquietante di Martin e che vorrebbe tenerlo per se e la dolcezza dello stesso Martin che riesce comunque a mantenere saldo il suo amore per Marijke.

Questa è una parte della storia che merita di essere letta, tutto il resto è pura follia. Scritta benissimo ma semplicemente morbosa, una storia che il lettore "deve" odiare (almeno si ritiene sia questo lo scopo dell'autrice, speriamo).

Un libro piuttosto vuoto alla fine, che si conclude con un funerale, una nascita e un mare di dolore che ti lascia solo a voltare l'ultima pagina, rilasciare un bel sospiro e pensare: "Beh, è finito, è allora?". Deludente.

( )
  Nasreen44 | Jun 8, 2017 |
Better than The Time Travelers Wife for sure. Ghosts. Ghosts! ( )
  kemilyh1988 | Jan 16, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 419 (next | show all)
Niffenegger’s story is written with a lightness of touch and with a great eye for the oddities of human behaviour.
Niffenegger has always identified loss as her main subject, but here at least it’s dissolution: the grim inevitability of decay. The theme of doubleness feeds into this. Valentina wants to break free of the controlling Julia and live her own life, but can she survive without her? Forced togetherness, the “fearful symmetry” of the title, can lead to a diminution of individual identity, a merging of personalities. Sometimes apartness is preferable.
added by riverwillow | editThe Times, John O'Connell (Oct 10, 2009)
Instead of fabricating ghosts and faux-Englishmen, it's a shame that Niffeneggers didn't just cut away all the cobwebby Halloween trappings and write a moving, realistic story about a man with OCD who is trapped for real, rather than ersatz, reasons in a flat overlooking a cemetery. She sustains a mood, but it is vaguely repellent, rather than enjoyably disquieting. Instead of a lingering, unforgettable ghost story, this is the novelistic equivalent of a cut-rate séance, a parlour game complete with Ouija boards and cheap theatrics, as unconvincing as knuckles rapping under tables
Niffenegger is an extraordinarily sensitive and accomplished writer, and Her Fearful Symmetry is a work of lovely delicacy... But Her Fearful Symmetry is not a book of great emotional force, not the way Time Traveler's Wife was.
added by Shortride | editTime, Lev Grossman (Oct 5, 2009)
Mysteries and truths slowly unravel as the story progresses. The major plot resolves predictably, but its grim inevitability fits well with the genre, and a few more surprising twists produce an even more satisfying read than Niffenegger’s bestselling debut.

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Audrey Niffeneggerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Amato, BiancaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Korhonen, PaulaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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She said, "I know what it's like to be dead.
I know what it is to be sad."
And she's making me feel like I've never been born.
—The Beatles
For Jean Pateman, with love
First words
Elspeth died while Robert was standing in front of a vending machine watching tea shoot into a small paper cup.
As a historian he knew that any trove of documents has incendiary potential. So the boxes sat like unexploded ordinance on the floor of his bedroom and Robert did his best to ignore them.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
A compelling novel about love and the power of life. Thetwins Julia and Valentina have an abnormally strong mutualband. On one day they get a letter from a British lawyer. Their auntElspeth Noblin, who they never met, is deceased and let herLondon apartment after her nichtjes.Nadat them from their surpriseare obtained, the girls decide to seize this opportunity for adventure andElspeth move to beautiful apartment, overlooking the Highgatecemetery in London. They learn the other occupants of the buildingknow, including Robert, the lover of their deceased Aunt Elspeth, whoall about the cemetery seems to know. Along, the girlsthat there is much life on Highgate. Especially their aunt seems her earthly life not to leave behind

Een meeslepende roman over liefde en de kracht van het leven. De tweelingzusjes Julia en Valentina hebben een abnormaal sterke onderlinge band. Op een dag krijgen ze een brief van een Engelse advocaat. Hun tante Elspeth Noblin, die ze nooit ontmoet hebben, is overleden en laat haar Londense appartement na aan haar nichtjes.Nadat ze van hun verbazing bekomen zijn, besluiten de meisjes deze kans op avontuur te grijpen en te verhuizen naar Elspeths prachtige flat, die uitkijkt op de Highgate begraafplaats in Londen. Ze leren de andere bewoners van het gebouw kennen, onder wie Robert, de minnaar van hun overleden tante Elspeth, die alles over de begraafplaats lijkt te weten. Gaandeweg ontdekken de meisjes dat er nog veel leven is op Highgate. Vooral hun tante lijkt haar aardse leven niet goed achter zich te kunnen laten
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After they inherit a London flat near Highgate Cemetery from their aunt Elspeth Noblin, two American twin teenagers move in, but they soon discover that much is still alive at Highgate, including, perhaps, their aunt, who can't seem to leave her old lifebehind.… (more)

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