Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger


Julia and Valentina, twin sisters living in America, inherit a appartment in London from their aunt Elspeth. They decide to move to England and live in the apartment just across the road from Highgate cemetery. Julia and Valentina are 21, but they seem like they are twelve. They dress in matching clothes, they do everything together and appear to be helpless in everyday matters. Most of the people living in the same building as the twins are weird. Robert was Elspeth’s lover. He works at Highgate cemetery and in a way deals with death every day. Martin suffers from a severe case of OCD and refuses to leave his apartment. His wife Marijke left him and returned to Amsterdam. Elspeth still lives in her apartment even though she is dead. She finds a way to communicate with the twins and Robert. Valentina would like to break free from Julia, so she and Elspeth hatch a plan into which they manage to drag Robert. It’s when weird turns into twisted and dark becomes even darker.

The title reminded me of the poem Tyger, tyger by William Blake. It was used many times in pop culture, in books and TV series I read and watched years ago, like The Echo by Minette Walters or an episode of Inspector Lewis series. Symmetry refers to duality of fearful tiger and innocent lamb, Julia and Valentina, Elspeth and Eddie. Two versions of the same thing, inseparable, to see one a person must see the other. What is more, Julia and Valentina are mirror twins which means for example that Julia’s heart is on the left while Valentina’s is on the right side of her chest. It made me think of mirrors and reflections. How do we see ourselves in the mirror, is our reflection an inverted image of us, therefore, is Valentina an inverted image of Julia and vice versa? They are mirror twins, very much attached to each other, so much that when one wants to break free, she’s bound to fail.

I enjoyed this book, especially the atmosphere and the ability of the author to represent a dark and twisted event in a way to seem normal. I loved how Niffenegger writes about Highgate cemetery, its overgrown gravestones and contemplative atmosphere. If you like dark and twisted, I ‘d definitely recommend reading this book. But if death and ghosts aren’t your cup of tea, perhaps you’ll want to stay away.

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Dvojčici Julia in Valentina od tete Elspeth podedujeta stanovanje v Londonu. Odločita se, da se iz Amerike preselita v Anglijo in živita v hiši nasproti pokopališča Highgate. Sestri imata enaindvajset let, čeprav jih velikokrat ne kažeta več kot dvanajst, saj se še vedno oblačita v enaka oblačila, vse počneta skupaj in se ne znajdeta v popolnoma vsakdanjih situacijah. Večina stanovalcev hiše, kjer je njuno stanovanje, je milo rečeno čudaških. Robert je bil Elspethin ljubimec. Dela na pokopališču in se tako rekoč vsak dan ukvarja s smrtjo. Martin trpi za resno obliko obsesivno kompulzivne motnje, zaradi katere ne želi zapustiti stanovanja. Njegova žena Marijke ga je zapustila in se vrnila v Amsterdam. Elspeth še vedno živi v svojem stanovanju, čeprav je mrtva. Najde način, da lahko komunicira z dvojčicama in z Robertom. Valentina bi se rada osamosvojila od Julije, zato z Elspeth skujeta načrt, v katerega zvlečeta še Roberta. Kar je bilo prej čudaško postane bolno, temačno pa še bolj temno.

Knjigo sem brala v izvirniku, njen naslov me je spomnil na vrstico iz pesmi Williama Blaka, Tiger. Pesem je bila že velikokrat uporabljena v pop kulturi, v knjigah in televizijskih serijah, ki sem jih brala in gledala v preteklosti. Spomnim se je na primer iz Odmeva Minette Walters in iz epizode serije Inšpektor Lewis. Simetrija iz naslova se nanaša na dvojnost grozljivega tigra in nedolžne ovčice, Julije in Valentine, Elspeth in Eddie. Gre za dve strani istega kovanca, nerazdružljive, da bi spoznal eno, mora človek videti tudi drugo stran. Poleg tega sta Julia in Valentina zrcalni dvojčici, kar pomeni na primer, da ima Julia srce na levi, Valentina pa na desni strani prsnega koša. To mi je dalo misliti o ogledalih in odsevih. Kako vidimo same sebe v ogledalu? Je naš odsev zrcalna podoba nas samih? Je potem Valentina zrcalna podoba Julie in obratno? Julia in Valentina sta zrcalni dvojčici, ki sta zelo navezani druga na drugo, tako zelo, da če bi se ena želela ločiti od druge, ji to gotovo ne bi uspelo. V slovenskem prevodu se naslov glasi Njena skrivnostna dvojčica. Če bi knjigo brala v prevodu, se gotovo ne bi spomnila pesmi, niti ne bi o zgodbi razmišljala na enak način. Poleg tega mi ni jasno kdo naj bi bila ta skrivnostna dvojčica iz naslova.

Knjiga mi je bila všeč, še posebej atmosfera in zmožnost avtorice, da temačno in čudaško prikaže kot normalno in kako opisuje pokopališče Highgate, z rastlinjem preraščene grobove in meditativno atmosfero. Če ste ljubitelj temačnega in čudaškega, potem bi vam knjigo gotovo priporočila, če pa smrt in duhovi nekako niso vaša izbira, potem se ji boste morda želeli izogniti.


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