Sunday, January 2, 2011

Her Fearful Symmetry

Audrey Niffenegger portrays individuals who risk everything in order to be with those they love. But what happens when their plans fail to succeed? When you reach someone and they are no longer emotionally available? Is there a happy ending?

Niffenegger uniquely examines issues of love and commitment within her newest novel, Her Fearful Symmetry. She chronicles obsessive relationships between three couples: two twins, a man with OCD separated from his wife, and another man who clings to the ghost of his deceased girlfriend (literally). The novel begs the reader to suspend rational judgment. While Her Fearful Symmetry is an eerie and sometimes suspenseful tale, it is overpowered by a long and drawn-out plot.

Overall, I found this novel hard to complete. The plot does contain twists. Unfortunately, I could predict some of these twists halfway through reading the book.

I also believe Her Fearful Symmetry suffers from comparisons to Niffenegger's other work - The Time Travellers Wife. I cannot recall the complete tale of The Time Travellers Wife (I read it during a stay in England a few years ago), but I do remember falling in love with the novel. I bought Niffenegger's newest work believing that any author who can write a story like The Time Travellers Wife is surely a master storyteller. While The Time Travellers Wife was a romantic tale about two lovers who cope with issues of time and distance, Her Fearful Symmetry presents a dark tale of lost love. Readers should avoid comparing Niffenegger's works in order to fully appreciate the layers of plot in Her Fearful Symmetry.

Unfortunately, my strongest critiques of Her Fearful Symmetry concern central twists and elements in the plot line... and I really don't want to spoil the read for you.

My one suggestion? Read Her Fearful Symmetry with an open mind and avoid comparisons to the author's other novels. Actually, it's simple advice that should be applied to every read.


  1. I totally agree about not comparing the two works. I read Her Fearful Symmetry before the Time Travelers Wife and really really enjoyed it. They are such different works people are bound to be disappointed if they loved one.

  2. Too true, Letter4no1. I'm glad you enjoyed both of Niffenegger's novels :) I find it interesting to see how the order we read books written by the same author (but not in a series) impacts what we get out of the respected works.

  3. I also think HFS suffered due to comparisons to TTW. If you separate them fairly in reviewing, HFS is actually a pretty good novel in its own right. I agree with you that some plot events were predictable but the writing was so good that it didn't bother me. Yes, TTW is better but it's hard to write a followup novel to such a fantastic book.


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