Ghost Story

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

It must suck to write a bestselling first novel. Because then the pressure is on, baby!

Audrey Niffenegger hit the bigtime with The Time Traveler’s Wife, a book I liked a lot and thought worthy of all the fuss and excitement it generated.

So with the second book, well… My take on it is badly biased by my preferences as a reader. I require characters I like. And that just didn’t happen here. These people are flawed, and not in ways I found charming.

Now, that having been said, this book was a page-turner—enough so, that I toughed it out with the messed-up characters. The story—with its gradual disclosure of more and more shocking little (big!) secrets—itself is a doozy.

Here’s what I can tell you without saying too much:

Elspeth, a woman who died too young, left her London apartment to her twin nieces Valentina and Julia. Elspeth herself was a twin to the girls’ mother—and the older set of twins had some huge, secret falling-out about 20 years earlier. When Valentina and Julia move into the apartment, they meet Elspeth’s lover Richard, who falls in love with Valentina, somewhat against his will. And that’s when Elspeth reappears on the scene as a ghost.

OK, it just gets more complicated from there—in a good way, which made the book un-put-down-able.

One final note: When I was younger, I thought it would be really cool to be a twin. This book sure would cure a person of that thought.