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on 10 October 2017
A tantalisingly interesting story in many ways which I enjoyed more at the time than looking back on it... It's a big exploration of twins; what it means to be a twin; and there's a lot about grief, and letting go. There are some marvellous rationales for why ghosts behave the way they do, which I found fascinating. Also the book is a great advert for Highgate Cemetery, which I feel I got to know very well. But there are a few plot points that just don't work (a few mild spoilers coming up): I couldn't see the point of the elaborate switch between one set of twins, or why it would involve them avoiding each other for the rest of their lives... And I would have thought that sudden death is always followed by a post mortem... And although Robert struggles and struggles with his bereavement, certain other characters recover extremely quickly from a shocking and devastating loss, going out for dinner and pursuing new goals. Ah, well, nothing's perfect, and I did enjoy it.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 4 November 2009
Ghost stories with a difference seem to be in the air just now, with Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger out a few months ago and now "Her Fearful symmetry". I spotted this as forthcoming and had it on pre-order after reading Niffeneger's "Night Bookmobile" serialised in the Guardian. So I hadn't read "Time Traveller's Wife" and don't have any comparison to make this that.

I wasn't disappointed. I think that Niffeneger succeeds in a very difficult task - making a spooky story out of a situation where the ghost is real and objective and indeed a fully participating character. Her (I'm not giving anything away, it's on the cover flap) motivation becomes a key part of the story, explored through the traditional means of a diary and the less traditional means of her own words. It must have been so tempting to resort to some standard spooky props (especially with Highgate Cemetery over the wall), but it would not have been a tenth as scary. Indeed, one of the points of the story is that the most harrowing things happen in cosy, well lit flats, caused by people (and, yes, a ghost) playing out a very human situation. The moonlit walks in the cemetery are actually lighter in tone.

It's difficult to say much more without giving spoilers, so read on at your own risk...

...the only thing that, in my view, let this book down slightly was its recourse to the rather weary idea of twins swapping places. As always when that happens, the reader (or at least, this one) is distracted from the story by trying to remember who is pretending to be who and who really is who, and the result is a slight headache. Well, maybe that theme of confused identity is part of the point ("identity" is a good word for grown up reviewers to deploy, especially if they're dealing with a ghost story, isn't it?

Anyway, for me, the climax of the book - an identity swap in the book's present that is even more audacious than the one discovered in its past - redeems the situation in the creepiest possible way. And unlike the earlier swap, this one cannot, even in principle be undone. So that's one minor quibble, with a lot else to like. Among other strands, I especially enjoyed the little love story playing out between Martin, the crossword setter on the top floor, and his estranged wife.

Well worth a read.
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on 16 June 2017
A brilliantly written book, I couldn't put it down and am sorry I have finished it. I now have the urge to visit Highgate Cemetery.
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on 30 August 2017
Love this book. Very readable author.
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on 19 September 2017
One of the most satisfying reads you can get
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on 12 July 2015
Brilliant. Although I would hate the thought that ghosts were hanging around watching my every move. All the information about Highgate Cemetery was an added bonus.
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on 13 September 2017
Quirky tale with characters you want to learn more about, i want to know what happened next, and would I do the same and bring myself back from the dead?
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on 18 July 2017
Loved the book the only thing I wasn't so happy about was the ending.
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on 29 June 2017
Great read, made me want to visit Highgate cemetery , so I did... Read it and definitely go to HG cemetery
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on 2 January 2017
I am so attached to this book - I keep giving it away and having to buy it again.
Curious and haunting.
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