I read Audrey Niffenegger’s first book The Time Travelers Wife on the recommendation of several friends. Great novel, mostly because it took my mind on a twisty trip which I appreciate as a reader. I saw the movie- ONLY because it was showing on a flight I was on. I think I took a little nap in between. So I read Her Fearful Symmetry after reading a review in the New York Times (see link).
The research that went into this novel is exciting. Niffenegger obviously knows her stuff when it comes to the historical aspects of Highgate Cemetery. She actually worked there as a docent while writing this book. She was afforded this luxury not only, I am sure, as a result of the success of her first novel but because of the five million dollar advance she received for this novel. I feel as do many other critics that that is a lot of pressure to write under, especially for a second novel.
I think the story and characters are wonderful. What bothers me is that the characters that I came to love so much ultimately acted in ways that were contrary to their character. And not in the mind trip 'this is fun' sort of way. More in the ‘that doesn’t seem like Jack’ or ‘that’s a pretty adverse reaction for Valentina’. The story still has those 'didn’t see it coming' twists but I was prepared for them and saw them coming.
Ultimately I felt like it was worth the read i.e.: I didn’t stop which I would do if I was not so compelled to find out what happened. I do think that Audrey Niffenegger is an amazing writer and researcher and I will read her next book too.