Book Review: Her Fearful Symmetry

Her Fearful Symmetry

As part of my ongoing quest to find family business balance, I promised myself that I would take the time to read more this year.  So far, that has mostly involved screen time (there are a lot of great blogs and ebooks out there!) but I think there’s still something special about curling up with a good book – I think it really contributes to health & happiness!

Recently someone gave me a box of english language books – which considering I live in The Netherlands is quite a treasure.  Unfortunately most of them were crime and mystery themed which really isn’t my thing.  In fact, I’m not much into novels at all, usually I prefer business or personal development type books.  For once though, I wanted to turn off my “business brain” and picked up Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger.  (Tip – if you plan on reading the book, don’t read through that Wikipedia link, it gives it all away!)

Set in London’s Highgate Cemetery the author of this paranormal novel acted as a tour guide there while researching the book.  I enjoy some kind of “real life” links in a novel and no doubt her experience doing so contributes to her painting a clear picture in my mind, despite never having been there.

Following the life of twins Julia and Valentina, who move from America to London when they inherit their aunty’s flat, I had no real expectations of where this book would lead.  Perhaps this is one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much, so won’t give too much away here!

Essentially, it’s a ghost story, but I like that it was written in a rather unique way.  There are lots of small details thought through and presented by the author.  For example, the story explains how the ghost begins as a “puff of smoke” and then takes some time to grow in strength, then eventually communicates with the living after first experimenting with various methods.

Mostly, the story is about relationships, both with those living and those who have passed on, and I found myself unwilling to put the book down.  Staying up for “just another chapter” is a delicious reading experience I’ve not had in a while!  There were also a number of unexpected turns and though I found the ending a little abrupt, it did make sense in the context of the story.

I found it interesting that the reviews for Her Fearful Symmetry on Good Reads were so varied – it seemed people either loved it or hated it!  I, for one, loved it…it was a captivating, interesting read, that hovered in my head after I closed the cover.  Like many good novels, the story was told from several different perspectives, the individual stories weaving together to create an enjoyable read.  Is it realistic?  Not at all.  I think true entertainment stretches the boundaries and makes you think differently and this fulfils those criteria.

The author also wrote Time Traveller’s Wife, which I’ve not yet read but seems to have a strong following, so perhaps I’ll seek that out sometime soon.

Have you read Her Fearful Symmetry?  Would you like to?  I’d love your comments below.


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