Her Fearful Symmetry: A Novel by Audrey Niffenegger (Scribner, $26.99, 416 pages)
A simple ghost story, that’s what Her Fearful Symmetry is. It’s the story of a woman, a twin, who dies and leaves her home and possessions in London to the twin daughters of her estranged sister. The late Elspeth’s flat is located next to the dramatic Highgate Cemetery, which, itself, serves as a major character in this novel. Based on this summary, a reader would not expect this to be a significant work. The reader would be wrong, because this ghost story was written by Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler’s Wife), one of the best writers of our time.
Niffenegger creates a small, magical world where every thought, every word, every action of the main characters has significance. Reading Symmetry is like watching a film shown in slow motion; her style is so arresting that it’s a challenge to look away. What Sacramento’s Joan Didion is to non-fiction writing, Niffenegger is to the world of fiction. Both are masters of icy realism, and it hardly matters what it is they write about.
Niffenegger may not convince you to believe in ghosts or time travel, but you will believe in her writing talents. A perfect gift for a future novelist. Highly recommended.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.