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Her Fearful Symmetry


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The brilliant new novel from the author of the massive international bestseller, The Time Traveler's Wife now in second format

About the Author

Audrey Niffenegger is a visual artist and writer who lives mostly in Chicago and occasionally in London. She has published six books, including the novels The Time Traveler's Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry. She helped to found the Columbia College Chicago Center for Book and Paper Arts. Her art has been exhibited by Printworks Gallery in Chicago since 1986. She is a Professor in the Fiction Department of Columbia College. Her recent projects include a ballet, Raven Girl, in collaboration with Wayne McGregor for the Royal Opera House Ballet.


Niffenegger follows up her spectacular The Time Traveler's Wife with a beautifully written if incoherent ghost story. When Elspeth Noblin dies, she leaves everything to the 20-year-old American twin daughters of her own long-estranged twin, Edie. Valentina and Julia, as enmeshed as Elspeth and Edie once were, move into Elspeth's London flat bordering Highgate Cemetery in a building occupied by Elspeth's lover, Robert, and the novel's most interesting character, Martin, whose wife is long suffering due to his crushing and beautifully portrayed OCD. The girls are pallid and incurious; they wander around London and spend time with Robert and Martin and Elspeth's ghost. Valentina's developing relationship with Robert arouses mild jealousy, and when Valentina pursues her interest in fashion design, Julia disapproves, which leads Valentina and Elspeth to concoct an extreme plan to allow Valentina to lead her own life. The plan, unsurprisingly, goes awry, followed by weakly foreshadowed and confusing twists that take the plot from dull to silly. While Niffenegger's gifted prose and past success will garner readers, the story is a disappointment. (Sept.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Elspeth Noblin has died of cancer and has left her London apartment to her estranged twin sister Edie's twin daughters, college-aged Julia and Valentina-with the provision that Edie never set foot in the apartment. The twins, unworldly, petite, and blonde (and oddly reminiscent of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen), claim their inheritance and meet their obsessive-compulsive neighbor, Martin, and Robert, Elspeth's shy, younger lover, who is writing a book about Highgate Cemetery (Elspeth's resting place). They eventually encounter Elspeth herself-though not, of course, in the flesh. Things take a sinister turn when their aunt plays a very nasty trick on Valentina that leaves her out of the picture, forever. Verdict The plot is unrealistic but could have been much more believable; the writing seems touched by the naOvete that radiates from the young twins. A puzzling book, like a Gorey drawing gone really icky. Fantasy lovers and lovers of The Time Traveler's Wife will want to consider. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/09.]-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"Dark and delicious" -- Tom Adair * Scotsman *
"What is really satisfying about this novel, like The Time Traveler's Wife, is its depiction of relationships: the process of grief, the transforming power of love" * Daily Telegraph *
"An original, outrageous, and thoroughly enjoyable ghost story" * Independent *
"There may be ghosts, but it's the human stories that glitter" * Elle *
"A rich, involving novel" * The Times *

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