Her fearful Symmetry – Audrey Niffenegger

This is the first book in ages that I have had the time to read through in only a few sittings. I don’t usually have the opportunity with work and life demanding attention, but with the Christmas holidays I found myself with the opportunity. I was interested to see what Niffenegger had come up with after The Time Travellers Wife (let me know if you’d like to know more about this one) which was a really enjoyable book.
The story is a little complicated but basically Elspeth, one half of a set of identical twins is dying of Leukaemia. Upon her death her will is executed leaving her apartment, money and possessions almost completely to her estranged twin sister’s twin daughters who she has never met. The will is full of conditions that don’t allow the twins parents to ever enter the apartment etc etc, which opens up the major mystery of the novel. Living in America at the time they discover their luck, the twins travel to London to live in their new apartment. They meet their neighbours, one the former partner of Elspeth who works in the famous Highgate Cemetery, the other an OCD sufferer whose condition keeps him from leaving the apartment to pursue his wife who has left him. They also meet Elspeths ghost who is trapped in the apartment.
Mystery, ghoulish encounters, human behavioural insights and a dash of romance give the novel a really unique, enjoyable quality and you can’t help but turn the pages a little faster to find out what happens next.
The major flaw however of this book was exactly the same as it was in The Time Travellers Wife. The author seems unable to give the reader what they want for an ending. And there is nothing more validating than to see Hollywood agree when they change the story for film to exactly what feels right. Now some of you might disagree but who can argue that seeing Kate die while Anna lives in the movie version of My Sisters Keeper (book by Jodi Picoult) felt better than the ending of the book? Or seeing Henry at the end of the movie (The Time Travellers Wife) time travel back to his wife after a reasonable amount of time? I just can’t get over the need to have the books I read resolve themselves. I find myself recreating the ending when the reality just won’t do.
Rating: 4 Stars

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