Audrey Niffenegger’s Time Traveller’s Wife was a bit of a revolution. Despte the unlikely storyline – a man who travels through time as a genetic disorder and meets his wife during her childhood – somehow the emotion and the beauty of their relationship rings true. You forget that it could never happen and just enjoy a rather unique love story.
Thus I approached Niffenegger’s newest offering, Her Fearful Symmetry with a certain amount of excitement. Unfortunately, I found the novel really hard to get into and it was a struggle to finish.
The central characters are identical twins, Julia and Valentina. Actually no – they are mirror twins, not identical. Valentina’s entire body – including internal organs – are a mirror image of Julia. The girls relocate to London when the aunt they never knew (their mother’s twin) passes away and leaves them her flat.
A few strange neighbours await them. First is Robert, aunt Elspeth’s lover. He is drawn to Valentina, the more gentle of the twins, although wonders how on Earth he is ever to get between the inseparable girls. Julia is drawn to reclusive, agoroaphobic Martin who lives upstairs. The third mysetrious neighbour is Elspeth herself, a ghost haunting her old apartment.
Elspeth eventually makes her presence felt and makesa strong connection toValentina. In the meantime, Valentina’s desire to escape the confines of her closeness with Julia reaches its epoch.
A friend once described a novel as ‘gothic by numbers’ and I feel this tag really applies here. The book is predictable and unbelievable. And strangely enough, I do not mean the haunting but the motivations and actions of the characters. This borders on rubbish.