The First 100 Pages: Her Fearful Symmetry

Sadly, I abandoned Peter Straub’s Ghost Story which I was so looking forward to reading this month.  I had cleared my entire October reading schedule just for it. It’s a book I had wanted to read for years, but 100 pages into it and I didn’t really care to pick it up again.  It bored me, and life is too short to read boring books. Sorry Peter!

At a loss as to what to pick up next, I decided on Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffennegger.  This is her second book, after the acclaimed The Time Traveler’s Wife which was just made into a movie, which I didn’t like so much. After that, I decided I wouldn’t read the book either.  Yes, I know it’s bad to let a movie dictate what you will and will not read, but this one did.  So there!  But house wives everywhere fell in love with it, which sent the book right to the top.  For her second book, not so much. All the lackluster reviews say, “I loved TTW so much, but I hate this book.”

Well, I didn’t let the reviews stop me from picking it up.  I’m just over 100 pages into it, and I must say I actually like it so far. It’s about a woman named Elspeth, whose a twin, who dies and leaves her London flat to her twin nieces.  She’s been estranged from her own twin sister for over twenty years.  She never really met the twin nieces before, but requests that they come to London and that they must live in her flat for one year before they can sell it.  And they can’t allow their parents to come inside. We’re introduced to the Elspeth’s boyfriend who lives downstairs, and an extreme OCD neighbor who also lives in the building.  And Elspeth is also still in the flat, as a ghost, when the twins arrive.

The chapters about her discovering herself as a ghost are just amazing to me.  She dances on the walls, changes clothes just by thinking about it, can’t see herself in mirrors and misses her face, and rests in an old drawer of her desk.  Unlike others who gave it a bad review, I’m actually enjoying reading this book at a nice slow pace of about 10 pages a night, or just a handful of chapters since most chapters are small anyway.

Of course, the struggle here is we want to know why Elspeth and her sister weren’t communicating all those years, and we’ll find out what the twins think of their new neighbors, I’m guessing. Oh, and did I mention the building is next door to an old cemetery?

More about it later as I hope to finish it by the end of the month…


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