When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt, only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers–with seemingly little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cozy home in the suburbs of Chicago, and with an abnormally intense attachment to one another. The girls move to Elspeth’s flat, which borders Highgate Cemetery in London. They come to know the building’s other residents. There is Martin, a brilliant and charming crossword puzzle setter suffering from crippling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Marjike, Martin’s devoted but trapped wife; and Robert, Elspeth’s elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. As the girls become embroiled in the fraying lives of their aunt’s neighbors, they also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including–perhaps–their aunt, who can’t seem to leave her old apartment and life behind.
I read this book because I loved The Time Travelers Wife. The book took me a long time to get into, but I finally did get hooked and needed to know what was going on. The ideas of this book intrigued me and I was curious how the author was going to pull them off. I was disappointed with the ending. While not unpredictable I found the ending of the book to be crude. There was not a single character you were left liking. That wouldn’t be so bad if you hadn’t spent the entire book trying to connect with a character. Usually there is at least one character you can connect with from the beginning, but in Her Fearful Symmetry you had to almost force yourself to like any of the characters. Most of the characters were almost incapable to connect with the few you possibly could have connected with had qualities that I found to be annoying and taken to extremes. While I don’t feel reading the book was a waste of time it is not one I think I will ever find myself reading again.