Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Her Fearful Symmetry

It took me 2 weeks to finish this novel and I had a blast reading this. I normally read two novels, an upstairs novel and a downstairs novel, at the same time. Only in the event of liking one of them so much, do I take the trouble of bringing that one wherever I go.
It's much like a safety blanket.

Her Fearful Symmetry was brought every where I went, I even adjusted the light in my bedroom so I could continue reading (I normally read my e-reader in bed, since it has it own light source and the night stand lamp won't bother anyone). I endured cold hands from holding the book in place, just to know what happened next.

It's a very enjoyable ghost story set in London a few years back. Cell phones didn't have international reach and people didn't spend sharing everything in one or other social network. In that time we get to know Robert and Elspeth first. Robert, being one of the major character, is portrayed as a kind man who might have had bad things happen to him which gives him some emotional scar tissue. I think that he was supposed to be shy and somewhat nerdy, but in an attractive way. Elspeth is the woman he loves, who's  first act in this novel is dying. Yep.
She's part of a twin, her sister Edie living in the Midwest (America), with whom contact is lost but the occasional letter. When Elspeth's will is read, she's leaving her apartment to her nieces, two girls, Valentina and Julia, who are also twin. Symmetrical twins at that, which means that they mirror each other rather than be exactly apart. Valentina even has her heart on the right side instead of the usual left. The apartment itself is located on the edge of Highgate Cemetery (which I absolutely want to visit now!!).

So, now you now most of the characters, the setting of this novel and its premise is actually how love can endure anything, even death. It also contains a very powerful lesson of how one's good intentions can easily turn sour and even end up losing everything you'd wanted in the first place.
I'm not giving away spoilers since the experience of reading this novel without knowing anything other than what the back informed me, was pretty great.

In other reviews about this novel, it's said that as the first half of this book is quite well written, the second is botched. It depends on what you expected.
It's true that I had a certain notion in my head of what I wanted to happen (there's a bit of mystery about a secret, Valentina's wishes, Julia's demands) and it played pretty much along with what I wanted until that particular break when it didn't anymore.
Maybe she could've taken it into a different direction, it is all possible, but when I dropped my expectations and altered them to what had happened, those chapters made me feel queasy and as awkward as the characters in the book, which I find altogether a pretty decent effort.

So no bad praise from me.. I liked the atmosphere, the characters (both main and side), the story and am completely besotted with Highgate Cemetery.