Her Fearful Symmetry

Thoughts   Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, Scribner 2009, 401 pages

MOTIVATION for READING:    I was motivated to read this by its availability.  One of my bookclub friends loaned it to me.

…..WEAK SYNOPSIS and spoilers possible in this and in comments…

WHAT it’s ABOUT:    A set of young American twins inherit a flat in London next to a cemetery and lots of creepy ghostly interactions happen.     I think I could say this is a quirky and odd novel.

WHAT’s GOOD:   I enjoyed the slightly creepy uneasy what’s really going on wonderings.   I did like a few of the characters as much as I disliked a few others.    I must say I was pleasantly intrigued and once the questions were answered, I was OK but not thrilled by it all.    I think the setting was my favorite thing and I liked that this American author spelled words the British way.     or maybe she’s NOT American and just happens to live in Chicago?   [To answer my own question: yes  — she was born in Michigan and is a Gemini.    She is highly creative.]

WHAT’s NOT so GOOD:     I can’t seem to pinpoint any specifics but I do know that I can’t wait to discuss because the friend who loaned this to me HATED it.    I have no idea why!    I want to hear her take on what upset her so.    Was it just that the characters in personality and actions quite annoying?    Was it writing style or subject?     I thought writing style was readable and effective.    Subject matter was creative; especially the ghosts.   Morals?   (Lacking.)   Treatment of person with OCD disability?   Hmmmm, that was one of my favorite parts.   My friend said she hated it well before the ending;  it couldn’t have been that…

Did anyone else think the lady who ran the cemetery had some secrets that never got discussed?


Other Reviews:   Devourer of Books, Books on the Brain, The Book Lady’s Blog, Stainless Steel Droppings, Presenting Lenore, Rhapsody in BooksFyrefly’s Book Blog, S.Krishna’s Books, books i done read, Stuff As Dreams Are Made On, Sophisticated Dorkiness, Book-A-Rama, Savidge Reads, Yule Time Reading, Monniblog, Bibliophile By the Sea, Stephanie’s Written Word, and do please read Softdrink’s – it’s rather amusing:  Fizzy Thoughts

and Jenny’s Books, Literate HousewifeCarl’s SPOILERfull Review,     yours?

If I missed your review, there is really no excuse whatsoever, and do please feel it quite acceptable to take me to task on missing yours.   I mean, really!   I’m only trying to impress you and show off the linky-love, am I right? Tell me I’m right, correct me if  I’m wrong.   I will most surely add your link to the review list, I promise.     kissy, kissy!    and may you stay away from ghosts who just might hook their finger on your soul…

37 thoughts on “Her Fearful Symmetry

  1. I still can’t put my finger on what exactly bugs me about this book. It’s not that I didn’t like it, but I’m not turning cartwheels either. I think you’re on to something with the lack of morals…especially since that wasn’t really explored. I mean, they all do some weird ass things, but it’s hard to know WHY.

    1. YES – I think YOU are on to something! It’s like all this strange stuff happened and yet we don’t explore consequence and thought! re-thought, analysis, something?

    1. Are you working on ‘books I hope to read this year’ list? I’m so distracted by possible reading lists that I can’t even sit and … uh, READ.

  2. I have heard people say the characters weren’t vivid – one of the things I didn’t like about it (though I liked it very much!) was that I couldn’t figure out Robert. He was never a fully realized character, I felt. Do you think that’s what bugged your friend so much?

    1. Not vivid. Not vivid… Hmmmm. That’s almost like arguing an artist’s color palette and not their technique. I don’t agree with ‘not vivid’ as I ponder this. (and thank you for offering this comment!)
      SO here’s the status on discussion with friend! We loaned the book once again to another friend so we are waiting for her to read then we will share all thoughts! I’ve never been so eager to discuss a book – it’s hilarious. Hopefully newest friend to enter fray will read forthwith.
      I liked Robert. So what he took awhile to “actualize” (like on the last page?) I myself could be drawn as a similar dishwashcloth kind of character, methinks, if you humor me with the delight of considering myself ‘in’ a novel, even if – and don’t we all? tend to think ourselves overinflated and also lacking? I think I’ve had too much coffee — I’m off to link in your review now.

      1. Hahaha, I frequently think that I would be a terrible boring book character! (But hopefully I wouldn’t be morally-ambiguous Robert. :P)

        1. no – I think you are delightful! As for Robert, I loved the thought expressed by Carl that Robert was a deadbeat dad! spineless, confused, trapped, weak. Not a pretty picture, huh. I take it back that I might be anything like him. Well, I don’t have his dilemmas with dead girlfriends coming back to life – what to do!?

  3. The setting was great… it made me want to jet off to London and spend the day wandering around the cemetery… and the pictures I’ve seen from Highgate only make me want to go more.

      1. I didn’t see that in Carl’s review, but I definitely did some Google-Earth-ing of my own… and checked Flickr for pictures as well. 🙂

  4. I just can’t decide if I want to read this or not. So few people really seem to like it. I’ve read enough books that are likable. I’m looking for lovable books!

  5. I’ve seen so many reviews that are so-so about this book. I’m sad to see it didn’t like up to expectation and it’s making me put off reading it. :/

    1. Oh, but it all depends on your expectations, doesn’t it?! I disagree it is a so-so book even if my three star might suggest it – it’s an either/or book maybe? Niffenegger is quite talented. I bet you read it someday.

  6. I’m in the OMG I love this one party 😀 I don’t understand why people blatantly hate this book. I think some people might take their aggravation towards some of the characters out on the book and the writing and the story. But wow, what a story it was!! And the feeling of the book was amazing. Personally, I don’t like happy endings where everything is wrapped up nicely with a bow 😉 So maybe that’s why I liked this one so much…some people are really just selfish and despicable like a lot of these characters…I thought it was honest! ok…/ramble. I loved your review Care!!

  7. I was totally underwhelmed, in part because I didn’t find any of the characters believable, and I thought that one twin was soooo dumb not to see what was going to happen. lol

    But I didn’t loathe it like your friend!

    1. Well yes, I could question a few behaviors and missing clues by characters. But for once, I didn’t do it while reading – only while thinking later. Which is good for me, less distracting.

  8. I have been wanting to read this one, but never so much that I make any effort to track it down 🙂 Thanks for an honest and succinct review.

  9. I returned this to the library unfinished, when it wouldn’t renew. I was probably on the verge of something interesting happening, I suppose–the twins had just started settling in to the apartment–but it didn’t especially bother me to take it back so I figured it was time to move on. I doubt I’ll go back to it. I’m not fond of ghost stories but I thought Niffenegger could pull it off for me (I’m not fond of time travel stories, either, but that didn’t stop me from loving The Time Traveler’s Wife). Looking forward to her next one.

  10. I’m really intrigued to see whether I like this one or not. I was one of the few people who wasn’t super impressed with Time Traveller’s Wife so I fear I may not like it!

    1. Ooops, I don’t think I summed that up yet. Well, she just thought Auntie was just horrible! But, myself can’t quite decide if she knew what would happen or let her own desires blind her to what was likely going to happen? or if she thought she could get away with it on the good side or evilly hoped to get away with it as it happened. if that makes any sense… Anyway, my friend thought that she was just horrible and it ruined the whole book!

  11. I enjoyed the book until the ending – I wanted to know more about where Robert went and what ended up happening to Elspeth. Otherwise, I felt it was quite entertaining!

  12. I liked it, but the ending disappointed me. Maybe because I had an ending in mind that could have worked, but it didn’t happen. I didn’t like it that much right after I finished it, but after further contemplation, I realized that it wasn’t supposed to leave you with a good feeling, and since I could appreciate what she was trying to tell us, I started to like it more. She did a good job telling what she wanted to tell. I was expecting something like Time Travelers Wife, a timeless love story, but she makes it clear in her second book she isn’t going to be thrown into any one category.
    I had mixed feeling about Julia, because of the way she treated her sister, but then helped Martin. I just didn’t know what to think of her.
    But I enjoyed this book. I’ve quickly become a fan of Audrey Niffenegger, even though these are who only two books.

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