Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger

Book 2

I remember The Time Traveler’s Wife as a book that had a lot of potential that it didn’t quite fulfill.  It built this really interesting world and then ditched what I thought were more interesting themes in favor of a love story.  I read this book in hope of better things.


Woman in London dies and leaves her estate to her twin sister’s twin daughters with the stipulation that the daughters – age 21 – will live in her London flat for one year before selling it.  And the parents may not set foot in the flat for that year.

Cool, right?

So the woman is a ghost and stuck in the flat.  Her romantic partner lives in the building, too.  And upstairs is an OCD guy whose wife just walked out on him.

Still cool. (SPOILERS!)

But the characters are unsympathetic to downright stupid.  It occurred to me about a third of the way into the book that one of the girls might die.  I was ok with that.  The punchline of the book occurred to me the very minute that it was set up.  (Thanks to The Skeleton Key, a not particularly good Kate Hudson film that happened to scare the bejeezus outta me.)

Here’s the truth:  OCD guy and his wife have, in my opinion, a far more compelling story.  He has the kind of OCD where…you wash the floor so as to cause a leak in the ceiling downstairs.  More than once.  It has obviously degenerated and he can barely leave his own flat.  She left him and moved to Amsterdam, saying in effect, “I love you but I can’t live like this anymore.  If you want to fix this, you can come to Amsterdam.”  So if the guy wants his wife back, he has to get his illness under control which will take time, meds and serious effort.  What does he do?

I would read that novel.

The rules of Ghost World are pretty interesting and I don’t think enough attention was paid to them.  Perhaps that was because the ghost is learning the rules as she goes along.  But I felt left hanging on that issue.  Also, the subplot of drama involving the mother and aunt, twins themselves, added nothing to the story.  The theme of the super-bond of twins felt melodramatic to me.

The three good things are the interesting premise, story of OCD guy and that in the end, everyone pretty much got what they deserved.

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