Sunday, November 22, 2009
My 100th book of 2009: Her Fearful Symmetry
To be honest, I'm not really sure what I feel about this book. It took me a long time to get through the first half and I thought I didn't like it, but in restrospect that may have had more to do with being distracted by some personal stuff and the fact that at 32 weeks pregnant it's really hard to get comfortable on the couch and read for any length of time. Now that I finished the book, I think I liked it overall, although I think I also feel slightly disturbed...
The book is all about the characters. Elspeth dies and leaves her apartment to the twin daughters of her own estranged twin sister Edie. Julia and Valentina move to London to live in Elspeth's old place, with Elspeth's lover Robert living downstairs and a man with OCD living upstairs. The way that the characters' relationships unfold is interesting and deep and both real and unreal. If that makes any sense.
I didn't actually like any of the characters besides Martin, the man with OCD. But the others intrigued me, as did the relationships between them. The twin thing is obviously a huge part of the story and I admit that it was creepy at times, the way Julia and Valentina were joined together. The desperation to become one's own person pervaded the story and gave it some sort of meaning, although events turned out to be so extreme that a part of this meaning was lost. Or maybe it was strengthened. Hmmm, I really don't know what to think.
There are so many questions... How far would we go for freedom? Is there a limit to what we'd accept for love? These and others are dealt with in the twin relationships, but also in the OCD aspect, which I thought was an interesting addition to the story.
The whole thing is slightly (or even very) creepy. A creepy tone is very difficult to set well, I think, and this was certainly a success here. The creepiness stays with you afterwards too... I can't say more about this without spoiling it for you if you haven't read it...
One thing's for sure, Niffenegger has wonderfully original ideas for storylines although the messages she passes through her writing are simple and human. This is a wonderful talent, I think.
Many bloggers have been saying that you'll either love or hate this book and I have to agree. I thought I'd hate it but now that it's over I am definitely leaning towards the love camp. We'll see if the feeling stays with me long enough for this book to make my top books of the year list...
Challenges: 2010 Countdown Challenge, 999 Challenge, 2nds Challenge