Every time I read fiction lately, I very quickly consume the book and read like there’s no tomorrow! Just like The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger’s recent release Her Fearful Symmetry is a book that is hard to put down. You have to finish it to know how she ended the story, and the ending is not what I expected or anticipated and potentially leaves room for a future sequel…

This is a ghost story set in modern day, between Chicago and London, with the plots of two sets of twins, dying and death, love stories (think along the lines of the Princess Bride and ‘twue yuv’), and somewhat abstract relationships, all blended with erudites, scholars, history, cemetery lore, and is essentially a literary tour with the beauty of different languages and communication thrown in for good measure. All in all, this novel was a highly entertaining read with the benefit of becoming educated about Highgate Cemetery (a Victorian cemetery of importance), and some of London’s rich history.

The author’s characters are truly fascinating and the imagination behind the story and each character is beyond creative… it is almost like a break in the psyche and a glimpse into other possible worlds. That’s also what I enjoyed so much in the author’s first major novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife, which has also now been made into a movie. The reader can lose themselves in the authors characters. That’s partly why it’s so easy to be consumed by her stories; the vicariousness of the characters lives almost has that ability to allow the reader to become part of the story; or perhaps that is just up to the reader of how much they allow themselves to get involved emotionally in the story with the attachments and detachments, the sadness and angst, the ethereal hopefulness and ultimately, the  melancholy happiness of one of the characters. In fact, I had a strong emotional reaction after reading just the first few pages and I knew I was hooked into the book. Kudos to the author for developing a more-than-compelling start of the story which kept me reading ahead to find out what would happen next. The author gave little clues and insights along the way too and it was enjoyable to imagine where the author was taking the story next. This is exactly the kind of novel I would like to write, if I ever write a novel. In fact, when I was a little less than halfway through, I thought (in an admiring way) that the book was a little like a grown-ups version of a Nancy Drew story, with a nice mystery and some of the supernatural thrown in. (I was totally addicted to Nancy Drew from ages 10-13 and during every break from school, I would inhale dozens of Nancy Drew books. The best Christmas present ever was when I received a whole set of Nancy Drew mysteries. I sat in my little bean bag chair drinking cocoa and eating Christmas candies, reading for hours upon hours of uninterrupted bliss. Good times!)

The author has an interesting bio on her website and is also a visual artist, trained at School of the Art Institute of Chicago, one of my all-time favorite museums, full of inspirations and trepidations alike, another opportunity to lose oneself through admiring works of others.

I’m trying to decide what to read next… I should either read about food and cooking, sustainability, a memoir or biography, or about Iceland. Any recommendations? Feel free to post your book ideas! I’m also going to try out one of the online paperback exchange centers, like PaperBackSwap. Off to read, write, and research while my brain musters some creative and artistic ideas. Happy Reading out there!