From suspenseful reads to literary tweeds…
Ghosts, Highgate Cemetary, the “Kitten of Death” and secrets galore fill the novel Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. But was it scary? Not really. Chapters bookstore places this book in the general fiction area appropriately. This book’s focus is on two sets of related twins. What is it with all the twins stories lately, anyways?
It is primarily set in and around Highgate Cemetary. One of the characters, Robert, is a tour guide of Highgate and is writing his thesis on the dwellers of the cemetary. I really liked this. I found the tidbits fascinating on some of the people interned at Highgate, and they added juice to the novel. I would have liked Ms. Niffenegger to have spent more time writing on this. There is documentation in the back of the novel about the extensive research that Audrey underwent while writing Her Fearful Symmetry as well as her acting as a tour guide of Highgate herself. I wish she would have connected this aspect of the novel together with the girls stories even further in some way. I hope that someone writes another novel with more on Highgate; this locale will definitely be on my Places I’d Like to Go list.
The climax of the story is predictable, but not conclusive, so you are still wondering if what you think will happen does. There are some surprises and interesting side characters. I really liked Martin, the OCD neighbour. The more I think about it, the supporting characters are more interesting than the main characters.
Occasionally, Audrey Niffenegger seems to direct through telling more than showing through action. I found this the case regarding the distress of one of the twins. It felt like we had jumped a few steps. Believability comes into play. Do you believe the character would have acted in a certain way? Some of the characters are credible and others not so much.
I have had many people tell me how much they enjoyed The Time Traveler’s Wife, which I have not read, so was hoping I would get the same thrill here but sadly did not. It is enjoyable but not gripping and mysterious but not scary. Audrey sounds like a multi-talented person, and I will keep an eye on her writing.