Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (unabridged audiobook read by Bianca Amato; 14 hours on 12 discs): This is more or less the tale of a small apartment building overlooking an old London cemetery. On the top floor is Martin, a man with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder dealing with being housebound by his illness and the recent departure of his wife who moved away because she could no longer deal with living that way. On the bottom floor is Robert, a thirtysomething academic working on a definitive history of the cemetery for his thesis. In the middle was Robert’s lover Elspeth, who dies at the beginning of the book and leaves everything to her American twin nieces Julia and Valentina. Elspeth has never met the girls, and it’s worth noting that they are the daughters of Edie, Elspeth’s long-estranged twin sister. Shortly after her death, Elspeth is surprised to discover herself haunting her own flat, unable to leave. Most of the characters feel trapped in some fashion or another, and the ways they deal with it make up for the bulk of the story. I did not like the ending; I feel pretty unclear on what happened to Robert and I wish a little more had been said about Elspeth’s future. All the same, it was a reasonably interesting book, if not exactly what one might call exciting or even engrossing.

A note on the audio: Amato was fine, though sometimes her American accent came across a little strange to my native ears. Also, having a chapter titled “the end” on the last disc can be a little disconcerting to the listener, since many audiobook companies use those words to let you know the book has indeed ended!

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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