May 29th, 2012 by Annie
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
|Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
American twins Julia and Valentina have inherited the estate of their mother’s twin sister, which includes a flat. However, a condition is attached to this inheritance. The twins’ parents, Edie and Jack, are forbidden from entering the flat.
Julia and Valentina, fragile and naive, yet anxious to begin a new life, soon move to London and discover their home overlooks the historic Highgate Cemetery. The twins meet their aunt’s eccentric friends and begin to sense they are sharing their flat with an unseen housemate.
Book Club Ideas
Her Fearful Symmetry is essentially a ghost story, so ghosts definitely need to be present for this book club party. I hung a girl ghost and the Little Kitten of Death from my ceiling fan with fishing wire. The ghosts were made with balloons, and a tall kitchen trash bag for the girl and a small kitchen trash bag for the Little Kitten of Death.
Here is a creepy youtube video on Highgate Cemetery. This video provides the perfect atmospheric slideshow and music for your party. It is set to continuously loop, so just play in full screen and let it go. If you don’t have highspeed internet, download the video to your computer by clicking here and looping in your computer’s media player.
Book Club Menu
Martin rarely ventured from his flat, so ordering out for pizza was a necessity for Martin once Marijke left for Denmark.
Pizza is a favorite party food. Top your Her Fearful Symmetry pizza with little ghosts (provolone cheese slices) and place the fully cooked pizza under the broiler for a minute or two.
Ghostly strawberries are created by dipping fresh strawberries in white candy melt and creating ghost faces with black decorating icing or gel.
Since Valentina and Julia were mirror twins, I decided, for dessert, to bake a doll cake and place it before a mirror. You can purchase a specialty doll cake pan and a doll insert from a cake supply shop or at Amazon.com; or use a bundt cake or angle food cake pan and a regular doll. Try to use a doll that is smaller (shorter) than a full-sized (11 1/2″) Barbie doll, if possible, so that the waist of the doll is even with the top of the cake. If you use a taller doll, top the cake with edible flowers or silk flowers as shown in the photo below.
A fun beverage for this party is Foggy London Punch or Bourbon Milk Punch served in clear plastic cups with girl ghost faces. You can have your guests personalize their own beverage cup with a scary (or not so scary) ghost face.
Book Club Resources
Ratings at the time this post was published
|Goodreads: 3.2 stars (37715 ratings)|
|Amazon: 2.9 stars (541 ratings)|
|LibraryThing: 3.41 stars (1521 ratings)|
|My Rating: 4 stars I can’t believe the book site ratings above! I really, really liked this ghost story. It was quite creepy and disturbing – filled with family secrets, twists and surprises.|
- What kind of person was Elsbeth? Were you suspicious of her motives? Did your opinion of her change? Did you like her?
- What role does Jessica play in this novel? What did you make of Robert and Jessica’s final encounter?
- What do you think becomes of Julia?
- Discuss the ending which was brutal for one of the characters. Did that character have it coming? Why or why not?
- Do you think Martin succeeded in overcoming his affliction?
- Why does Elsbeth leave her flat to Julia and Valentina?
- Although ghosts are important characters in this novel, the living don’t seem to question or be frightened by their paranormal encounters. Why?
- Did Valentina deserve her nickname “Mouse”?
- Compare and contrast the interactions between the two sets of twins, Elbeth and Edie, and Valentina and Julia.
Purchase Her Fearful Symmetry at your favorite bookseller
|Audrey Niffenegger was born in 1963 in Michigan and currently resides in the Chicago area. Her Fearful Symmetry follows Audrey’s highly acclaimed debut novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife. In addition to her success as a novelist, Audrey writes shorts stories and essays and is also a visual artist with an MFA from Northwestern University. More information on Audrey Niffenegger can be found on her website.|
Other Works by Author and Recommended Reading
Personal Insights, Favorite Quotes, etc…
“There was only the cemetery itself, spread out in the moonlight like a soft grey hallucination, a stony wilderness of Victorian melancholy.”
I read on Ms. Niffenegger’s website that she conducts tours at Highgate Cemetery. I would love to take that tour! Here is a link to Highgate-Cemetery.org.
Do you have any other ideas or recipes for a book club party for Her Fearful Symmetry? We would love to have you share them with us! You can leave a comment below and upload pictures as well.
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