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Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
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Her Fearful Symmetry (edition 2010)

by Audrey Niffenegger

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,980381919 (3.4)317
Member:AmyLC
Title:Her Fearful Symmetry
Authors:Audrey Niffenegger
Info:Scribner (2010), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 406 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:fiction, ghosts, England, cemeteries

Work details

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

  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. 91
    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. 51
    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".
  4. 30
    The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb (VictoriaPL)
  5. 30
    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.
  6. 30
    The Mercy of Thin Air by Ronlyn Domingue (cataylor)
    cataylor: Both books deal with a spirit trapped in the afterlife who observe the living.
  7. 20
    Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon (Ciruelo)
  8. 87
    The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (Cecilturtle, krizia_lazaro)
  9. 10
    Charlie St. Cloud: A Novel by Ben Sherwood (becksdakex)
    becksdakex: Death, family, ghosts.
  10. 10
    Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier (KayCliff)
  11. 10
    Miss Garnet's Angel by Salley Vickers (Othemts)
  12. 10
    26a by Diana Evans (terran)
  13. 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.
  14. 11
    The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman (Miranda_Paige)
  15. 00
    Soulmates by Miranda Glover (Hollerama)
  16. 11
    The River King by Alice Hoffman (Miranda_Paige)
  17. 00
    The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (sturlington)
  18. 23
    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.
  19. 24
    The Other by Thomas Tryon (Ciruelo)
  20. 39
    Beloved by Toni Morrison (Othemts)

(see all 20 recommendations)

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» See also 317 mentions

English (372)  Dutch (4)  German (2)  French (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (380)
Showing 1-5 of 372 (next | show all)
Though not in the same league as "The Time Traveler's Wife", "Her Fearful Symmetry" is a twisted and articulate tale about the importance of identity. ( )
  Birdo82 | Jul 26, 2014 |
I was a little apprehensive in picking this one up after reading some mediocre (and less than mediocre) reviews - and I only had a few days to read it before it was due back the library, and I was worried I'd slog through it. Perhaps my low expectations had something to do with it, but I was pleasantly surprised, and really enjoyed this.

I absolutely loved the atmosphere of the whole thing. Niffenegger does a wonderful job of setting the stage for the novel. It starts out with a realistic depiction of our world, with a slight creepy factor due to Highgate Cemetery neighboring the flat. And then, of course, there's the haunting. From the summaries I'd read, I wasn't sure how literal this haunting would be - just an overbearing sense that Elspeth still "owned" the flat? Her belongings and what she left behind keeping the twins from feeling like it was their home? The hold her memory still has on Robert and the others she knew? Or the actual presence of a ghost? It turned out to be the latter, and I thought the "haunting" factor was very well done. It's gradually built up so that it's almost believable, with Elspeth beginning as a weak, vaporous spirit and eventually becoming capable of moving small objects, etc., and the atmosphere is a big help in allowing the reader to suspend disbelief.

Speaking of which, the reader's ability to do just that is important for this one, I think. A lot of other reviews I read said the ending took it too far, pushing it past the point of believability. I can see how; there are several twists at the end, some more far-fetched than others, and one that I saw coming from early on in the book. Nonetheless, I think she ended it the only way she could, if that one big twist (if you've read it, you know which one I'm talking about - I don't want to give anything away!) is something she was aiming for through the whole novel, and I get the impression that she was. One the whole, it was beautifully written, and with great characterization (I especially liked Martin, and it was interesting to see how his journey - or lack thereof - paralleled Elspeth's). There were a couple of things that bothered me about the ending, but on the whole I really enjoyed this once I allowed myself to get lost in it. ( )
  bookwormam | Jul 8, 2014 |
I had to give this one 50 pages, but then it had me hooked. Plot predominates over character development, but the characters are complex enough not to be predictable--same can be said of the narrative structure. Not a simple book. Engaging and satisfying. ( )
  robson663 | Jun 20, 2014 |
A really fun read - one that I could have a easily read from start to finish but did have to do some work in between. Any previous fantasy I'd had about wanting to be a twin was diminished by this book. I do with the author had gone deeper with the lives of the older twins to better explain the motivation for their actions. ( )
  viviennestrauss | May 22, 2014 |
I cannot say much about this book without ruining the experience of reading it for a future reader. I will tell you that I've given it a 4-star rating, and that this book completely blew my mind.
Parts of this book were like The Time Traveller's Wife in style- very domestic, despite the supernatural elements, I felt a lazy, peaceful kind of feeling whilst reading them, which is unusual but refreshing. Other parts of this book were totally insane and crazy, in the best way.
I urge you to give this book a chance, and keep reading even if you feel like you don't want to sometimes- you are in for a story of twins and ghosts, a story that will surprise and trick you at every turn. The beginning lulled me into thinking this was going to be a sweet, coming-of-age story/romance with a tiny, quirky dash of the supernatural, but well.... you'll just have to see for yourself! ( )
  Sweet_Serenity | May 20, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 372 (next | show all)
Niffenegger’s story is written with a lightness of touch and with a great eye for the oddities of human behaviour.
 
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 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)
 
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 editionsconfirmed
Amato, BiancaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Korhonen, PaulaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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
Dedication
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.
Quotations
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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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

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

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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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