Her Fearful Sophomoric Attempt

Seldom do I buy a book sight unseen, on only author’s name and fame alone, but I decided to take a chance on Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, because her first book of fame, The Time Traveler’s Wife is one of my favorite books of all time. I will not make that mistake again.

Her Fearful Symmetry isn’t a bad book, but it’s not brilliant. It’s readable, but I won’t tell anyone about it. The basic premise is about two sets of twins, the older set being mother/aunt to the younger set. The story opens with the death of Elspeth, one of the older twins. She has left her apartment in London to her nieces, upon the condition that they live there for a year before they sell it. The nieces, Julia and Valentina, move into their aunt’s house as she haunts it. Then the story gets completely convoluted.

In the end, all the characters got what they wanted, but weren’t happy about it. This could have been a lesson, but as a reader, apathy overtook any other emotion. Niffenegger did have her moments of brilliance, but having the characters comment on that brilliance reduces its impact significantly. The climactic moments were so heavily foreshadowed that they were obvious and disappointing. If she had spent less time adoring herself and a little longer creating characters we could fall in love with, there might have been a ghost of a chance for Her Fearful Symmetry.

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