I was really looking forward to reading this book, since I loved The time traveler’s wife. I was a little bit disappointed. Her fearful symmetry is not bad, it’s ok, but nothing spectacular.
The book starts after the death of Elspeth and deals with the extreme effects this has on the lives of her estranged twin sister, her husband and their twin daughters Julia and Valentina. The main subjects of the book are death and identity. All of the main characters in the book lose someone or something important to them and they deal with it in their own way. There’s also quite a lot about identity since it revolves around two identical “mirror” twins. If you are so identical to someone else, are you your own person or are you just two parts of one organism? And if everyone sees you as the same, how do you make them see you as two different people? How do you live separate lives without actually separating?
The plot is interesting, it is actually larger than life, but somehow finishing the book left me feeling a bit ‘meh’… As for the major twist towards the end, I kind of saw it coming so I wasn’t exactly blown away. I do think that the most disturbing thing in the book, something a main character does, is kind of rushed and not quite properly dealt with, so that annoyed me a little… I feel that the author tried to make Her fearful symmetry something really grand and complicated and thought provoking but didn’t quite achieve it.
A quote I liked:
“He had never realised, while Elspeth was alive, the extent to which a thing had not completely happened until he told her about it.”
And I really loved Martin’s speech about what being in love feels like:
“Being in love is… anxious… Wanting to please, worrying that she will see me as I really am. But wanting to be known. That is… you’re naked, moaning in the dark, no dignity at all… I wanted her to see me and to love me even though she knew everything I am, and I knew her. Now she’s gone, and my knowledge is incomplete. So all day I imagine what she is doing, what she says and who she talks to, how she looks. I try to supply the missing hours, and it gets harder as they pile up, all the time she’s been gone. I have to imagine. I don’t know, really. I don’t know any more.”