Most fans of Audrey Niffenegger’s debut smash The Time Traveler’s Wife know she has a new book coming out this fall. On sale September 29th, Scribner is pitching Her Fearful Symmetry as “a spectacularly compelling ghost story set in and around Highgate Cemetery in London.” We’ve been on pins and needles waiting for our advance copy to arrive, and I was thrilled when I saw it in the mail last week—just in time for the weekend.
Although I’m only 75 pages in, I think it’s safe to say Niffenegger has avoided the dreaded sophomore slump. This novel feels wholly original and it’s something I would have picked up and kept reading even if I didn’t recognize the name on the (very spooky) cover.
The story begins as Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer in London. She has been long-estranged from her twin sister, Edie, but nevertheless leaves her London flat to Edie’s twin daughters—Julia and Valentina—who never knew their Aunt Elspeth. 20-year-old Julia and Valentina have lived in America their whole lives, and they are intrigued by their aunt’s generosity and a chance at an exciting new life in London. But Elspeth’s inheritance has conditions—the twins must live in her apartment together, and they must stay for at least one year; even stranger, Edie and her husband Jack are forbidden to set foot in the flat.
I know from the jacket copy that the twins will have another roommate in their new London home—the ghost of Aunt Elspeth. And I’m excited to see what the girls will learn about each other, their family’s history and why their mother and her twin sister Elspeth have been estranged all these years. In addition to being a fantastically gifted writer, Niffenegger is a guide at Highgate Cemetery—so the reader can expect lots of first hand creepy detail.