Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (Scribner, 2009, 416pp.)
American twins Julia and Valentina think they have it made when they inherit a flat in jolly old England from their Aunt Elspeth. Too bad they don’t know the flat is haunted. Elspeth, the twin’s eccentric, ghostly guardian, her grieving lover, their obsessive-compulsive crossword puzzle-writing neighbor and his long-suffering wife round out the cast of this flawed but oddly compelling tale of love, obsession, and longing. Readers unfamiliar with London culture may find themselves scratching their heads at the author’s habitual name-dropping (she mentions Boots (a pharmacy), Tesco (a minimart), and the London Underground, also called the Tube (both names for the city’s subway system) without offering sufficient explanation. This, and unnecessary plot twists may bungle an otherwise intriguing narrative for first-time readers of Niffenegger. For fans of her debut blockbuster The Time Traveler’s Wife, however, this dark love story is definitely worth checking out.
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