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Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Her Fearful Symmetry (edition 2009)

by Audrey Niffenegger (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,6734591,223 (3.38)356
When Elspeth Noblin dies, she leaves everything to the 20-year-old American twin daughters of her own long-estranged twin, Edie. Valentina and Julia, as enmeshed as Elspeth and Edie once were, move into Elspeth's London flat and through a series of developing relationships a crisis develops that could pull the twins apart.… (more)
Title:Her Fearful Symmetry
Authors:Audrey Niffenegger (Author)
Info:Jonathan Cape (2009), Edition: First Edition, 400 pages
Collections:Your library

Work Information

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

  1. 152
    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. 96
    The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (Cecilturtle, krizia_lazaro)
  5. 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.
  6. 20
    The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb (VictoriaPL)
  7. 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.
  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
    Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon (Ciruelo)
  10. 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.
  11. 00
    Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both novels feature Highgate Cemetery.
  12. 00
    Soulmates by Miranda Glover (HollyMS)
  13. 00
    The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (sturlington)
  14. 00
    Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood (becksdakex)
    becksdakex: Death, family, ghosts.
  15. 00
    26a by Diana Evans (terran)
  16. 00
    Miss Garnet's Angel by Salley Vickers (Othemts)
  17. 01
    A Dark-Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both books are about devoted sisters whose relationship turns sour with deadly results.
  18. 01
    The River King by Alice Hoffman (Miranda_Paige)
  19. 01
    The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman (Miranda_Paige)
  20. 24
    The Other by Thomas Tryon (Ciruelo)

(see all 21 recommendations)


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» See also 356 mentions

English (446)  Dutch (4)  German (2)  French (1)  Hungarian (1)  Croatian (1)  All languages (455)
Showing 1-5 of 446 (next | show all)
Listened to this as a recorded book; enjoyed the reader's voices. Took me a while to get oriented; in the beginning we jump between stories and people and it took a while to sort it out. On the plus side, an interesting plot and quite engaging once I got into it. There is a big secret that is not revealed until quite late, and just as that is revealed, there is another turn of events that rocks everything. It moves along well.

How can I say this? You know how you can think you know what the characters will do and then they do something that you wish they didn't? Yelling at them won't change the outcome, but you sure wish you could. So-- as to stars. Did I REALLY like it? For writing and plotting, yes. For the story, not so much.

Memorable characters, I must say. I did enjoy Martin, the guy upstairs who is so obsessive compulsive that he is almost paralyzed and certainly can't leave his apartment. The twins, Julia and Valentina were well differentiated and their relationship was well defined... Robert and Elsbeth? Hmm. Elsbeth and her sister? Hmm. Let's just say, it's not so bad to be an only child. There are perks.

I haven't looked at other reviews. Wanted to blah blah my own thoughts out first. Muddled. Didn't love it, but someone else might. It's well worth a go.
( )
  JEatHHP | Aug 23, 2022 |
Picked up second-hand on the basis of having enjoyed reading The Time-Traveller's Wife and finding the blurb interesting. It held my attention and was an enjoyable read for the most part, however on many occasions a dramatic plot point would arise only to lead absolutely nowhere. The ending was also extremely unsatisfying. Without posting a massive spoiler I can't elaborate. I will say that things were not adequately explained and behaviour was extremely out of character - a very big pity after a fairly solid piece of escapism.

Ah yes, and a ghost story? Not really. The ghost often disappears from the plot for chapters at a time. The text also felt rather young adult -- an odd choice of style, if it was a conscious choice, since the younger twins are 21-years-old and all other characters considerably older. It read like something aimed at, and that would be much better appreciated by, say 14-year-olds. The simplistic writing style rendered the supposed plot twists, especially what I presume was supposed to be the "major" one, bleeding obvious from a reasonably early stage. In addition, that supposed plot twist triggers the internal logic of the plot failing completely, with a main character dwindling to, well, nothing, really, and almost all others behaving completely out of character. And then... it just ends, that's it, finished. Blah!

I was thinking three to four stars, with the proviso that it's not *really* a ghost story and to expect YA-type literature (not always a bad thing), but that ending really, pardon the pun, killed the pleasure for me. ( )
  Vivl | Jun 8, 2022 |
A wonderful follow-up to The Time Travelers Wife. Niffenegger's superior storytelling skills remain strong in this book as she weaves a suspenseful and haunting story about family, love, sisterhood and life and death.

I was most impressed by Niffenegger's detailed descriptions of the cities in which her story takes place: London and Chicago. Both places came alive and added to the often otherworldly and creepy vibe of the story.

She was also able to skillfully illustrate the cultural differences between the American girls and English men without resorting to overused cliches or sacrificing the integrity of her characters.

If you enjoyed The Time Travelers Wife, you should enjoy this very different but equally moving ghost story. ( )
  Carmentalie | Jun 4, 2022 |
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Neffenigger (1star)
Unfortunately, a hook, line, and stinker of a story.
This is the second book I have read by this author. I did like the Time Traveler’s Wife so I picked this one up thinking I would like it too. The setting was intriguing, and I usually like stories with some mystery to them. Well, it started out pretty interesting, but the main characters, twins Julia and Valentina seemed a bit off from the start. They were pretty wooden and insipid and there was something wrong with the fact that even at age 21 they did not want their own rooms, still slept together, still dressed exactly the same, and did everything together. The story just got odder from there.
The men in the story are just a bunch of weaklings that are wishy washy and seem to only care about getting in bed with someone. All except Martin, the upstairs neighbor who had OCD and could not leave his apartment. He was the only male in the story that actually cared about improving his life. His story, although interesting, really had nothing to do with the actual storyline of the twins so I wonder why it was even included.
Robert, the boyfriend of the deceased Aunt, was just a jerk and the biggest wimp of all. He was so dysfunctional, you just hated him by the end of the book. Jack, the twins’ father, was an idiot who knew his actual wife had swapped places with her identical twin sister but still stayed with her and went along with the charade. What?
None of the characters were very likeable and they all made stupid decisions and messed up their lives even more. Near the end of the barely tolerable story, one of the twins comes up with the stupidest idea of all and Robert, the big wimp, and the selfish deceased Aunt become accomplices in the foolishness. Then, the book all of a sudden, ends, leaves a bad taste in your mouth and you vow to never read another book by that author because they led you on a wild goose chase, dropped you off a cliff and wasted your time. I am not even donating the book to charity, its going in the circular file. ( )
1 vote kaida46 | May 27, 2022 |
First of all WOW. Would love to do 4 1/2 stars actually. The book was good and interesting but the last 100 pages was gripping and intense. There were things I didn't expect at all, some foreshadowing that I chose to ignore when I read them and lots of things that made me go wow. All day long, all I wanted was to get off work to come home to finish the book. Would definitely recommend this book to others. ( )
  KyleneJones | Apr 25, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 446 (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 (12 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.)
Disambiguation notice
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Wikipedia in English (2)

When Elspeth Noblin dies, she leaves everything to the 20-year-old American twin daughters of her own long-estranged twin, Edie. Valentina and Julia, as enmeshed as Elspeth and Edie once were, move into Elspeth's London flat and through a series of developing relationships a crisis develops that could pull the twins apart.

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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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