"The thing that made the twins peculiar was hard to define. People were uneasy when they saw them together without knowing exactly why. They were not merely identical: they were mirror-image twins. The mirroring..involved every cell in their bodies. They were still essentially one creature, whole but containing contradictions."
Audrey Niffenegger's follow up to the Time Traveler's Wife will be arriving in stores sometime next month, but I was lucky enough to snatch an advanced copy. Niffenegger seems to like to incorporate intimate relationships with the supernatural. Her Fearful Symmetry replaces true love with sisterhood and swaps time travel for ghosts. The result is what I expected from Niffenegger (after reading Time Traveler's Wife) -- a wonderfully crafted, beautifully written story.
Her Fearful Symmetry tells the tale of Julia and Valentina, mirror image twins who inherit a London flat from their estranged aunt Elspeth (their mother's twin). The twins have never been away from home for very long, and they've never even entertained the notion of being apart from one another for a second. Julia is thrilled about moving overseas and having an adventure, while Valentina is more apprehensive and nervous about the change. When they move in, they meet Robert, Elspeth's grief ridden lover who lives downstairs. Their upstairs neighbor, Martin, is a sweet man whose severe OCD has made him unable to leave his home for the past few years. Each of these men develops a very influential relationship with one of the twins, causing at least one of the twins to begin to ponder what life on her own would be like.
Also, there's ghosts! But that's my favorite part, so I'm not giving anything away.
The central theme of the novel is an examination of relationships; what's healthy and at what point they can become toxic. Robert's relationship with Elspeth and the relationship between Julia and Valentina are written so well, I'm certain that every reader will be able to relate to most aspects of them. It's a beautiful story about love and its potential toxicity, the inability to let go, and how these things affect us in both life and death.
I loved it. I can't wait for other people to read it, so we can discuss it. After some humdrum novels on the 100 list, I needed a break, and this novel got me excited about reading again. It has a laydown date of 9/29, so keep your eyes peeled (? eww.)
(Sis you can borrow my copy, cause I think you'll really like this one!)