Saturday, January 9, 2010

Her Fearful Symmetry

It's no secret that The Time Traveler's Wife is one of my favorite books. I think about it all time (but not more than She's Come Undone). So obviously I was excited to hear that Audrey Niffenegger finally came out with another title. I picked up Her Fearful Symmetry completely excited to tear through it at top speed. And for my standards, I did. It held my interest until the very end. But then I sat there kind of scratching my head.

A woman in England dies. She, Elspeth, leaves her apartment and nearly all its contents to the twin daughters of her twin sister, who lives in Chicago. With one stipulation. Her sister is not allowed to set foot inside the apartment; which incidentally is next to Highgate Cemetery; final resting place of many famous people. The lazy, unmotivated girls move to England and meet Elspeth's neighbors. I will go as far as to say that the character development is brilliant here. Then Elspeth realizes that she is a ghost and is trapped in her former apartment. A bit of a stretch, but then tell me time travel isn't. She's pretty endearing as a ghost and makes great effort to communicate with the girls and her lover, Robert. And that's when it started to go way off the map for me. It's a crazy thing called the "Little Kitten of Death." Hmmmm ... not so much. Any shred of believability is out the door for me at this point. Plus, once Robert starts reading Elspeth's journals, I just become confused. Trying to figure out relationships and who's who and generally thinking "oh please don't go there. Oh no, don't. Stop. And we started off so well."

The thing is that even when the plot went completely wonky, I was still flying through the pages. And I admit that I was pretty pleased with the last page ... not the overall ending, but one specific part of it. But there is still a question that I don't know the answer to! And I don't think it's because I just didn't get it, but because the explanation was so confusing. I've even asked a few people what they think and they aren't sure either.

So I'm torn. Niffenegger's writing is beautiful. The plot had serious potential. But I'm on the fence. I'm not going to tell anyone not to read it, because I want you to so that I can ask you who the father is (don't want to spoil it too much!). So hurry up and read it then call me, OK?

maybe more like 3-1/2? can't commit on this one
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