Her Fearful Symmetry
By Audrey Niffenegger
(Scribner, Paperback, 9781439169018, 416pp.)
Publication Date: June 29, 2010
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Julia and Valentina Poole are twenty-year-old sisters with an intense attachment to each other. One morning the mailman delivers a thick envelope to their house in the suburbs of Chicago. Their English aunt Elspeth Noblin has died of cancer and left them her London apartment. There are two conditions for this inheritance: that they live in the flat for a year before they sell it and that their parents not enter it. Julia and Valentina are twins. So were the girls’ aunt Elspeth and their mother, Edie.
The girls move to Elspeth’s flat, which borders the vast Highgate Cemetery, where Christina Rossetti, George Eliot, Stella Gibbons, and other luminaries are buried. Julia and Valentina become involved with their living neighbors: Martin, a composer of crossword puzzles who suffers from crippling OCD, and Robert, Elspeth’s elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. They also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including—perhaps—their aunt.
Audrey Niffenegger is a visual artist and a guide at Highgate Cemetery. In addition to her bestselling novels, The Time Traveler’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry, she is the author of two illustrated novels, The Three Incestuous Sisters and The Adventuress. She lives in Chicago.
The author of The Time Traveler's Wife says she has always been attracted to themes of death and dying. Audrey Niffenegger's new novel, Her Fearful Symmetry, features identical twin sisters living in a haunted London flat. More at NPR.org
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Niffenegger was an unfamous visual artist and maker of art books when she wrote The Time Traveler's Wife, which has sold about 2.5 million copies since 2003. Her new book, Her Fearful Symmetry, is due out September 29 from Scribner.
- Just as she did with time travel in The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger made the bold choice to center the story in Her Fearful Symmetry around a fantastical subject: ghosts. How does Niffenegger strive to make this supernatural occurrence believable in the novel? Do you think she succeeds? Why do you think Niffenegger is attracted to subjects like time travel and ghosts?