As a mother of teenage twins I get a bit fed up with the cliche of 'weird twins' in contemporary fiction, but Audrey Niffenegger's portrayal of mirror-image twins Valentina and Julia in Her Fearful Symmetry is sensitive and they are naive rather than freakish. The novel started off well. Set in Highgate Cemetery in London, there are lots of interesting details, for example the holly bushes in the cemetery which have sprouted from funeral wreaths left by the Victorians.
Valentina and Julia inherit a flat close to the cemetery which is haunted by Julia, the woman they believe to be their aunt. In the flat below lives Robert, Elspeth's former lover who is writing a dissertation on the cemetery and takes guided tours. In the flat above lives Martin, a man tormented by OCD who spends his time bleaching his floors and blanking out his windows. For me, Martin and his absent wife Marijke, are by far the most interesting and likeable characters in the novel.
The novel is cleverly plotted with a theme of twinning and symmetry. The history of Highgate is well-researched without being too research-y and I liked all the hip London references - Philip Treacy, The Sex Pistols, Prada and Liberty. Yet there was something missing from this novel for me. A good novel but not a great novel.
I enjoyed Book Snob's account of an evening with Audrey Niffenegger.