I really loved A Time Traveller’s Wife. I really want to love Her Fearful Symmetry. And for most of the first half I was completely on board. I enjoy a good mystery, I appreciate a London setting and a fancy flat with loads of expendable income. As always, I appreciate good characterization – and the twins, Robert, and particularly Martin, are likable. Likable but not quite fully realized. The characteristics of each – Valentina as “mouse,” Julia as “bossy,” Martin as “OCD-ey” evolve, but without any justification for why such changes take place except that it is expedient for the plot.
In fact, all of the novel works towards advancing the plot and reaching the climax, at the expense of character development, consistency and motivation. While I appreciate that Neiffenegger takes bold and creative ideas and puts them to work in ways that allow the reader to suspend belief, unlike TTW, here the suspension of belief is only temporary, and the “magical” elements quickly become tedious and without logic, which is all the more disappointing given the success of TTW in sustaining believable unbelievability. Which is to say, the plot is engaging for the first 2/3rds of the text, and then becomes something to be completed if only to find out how the wildly loose ends might come together.
So a novel to be enjoyed for the fast-paced plot and the intensely readable early sections; a novel to be avoided if one values character development or consistency.