I read The Time Traveller’s Wife (TTW) a few years ago and it wowed me. I couldn’t stop thinking about the book for days. The love story, Sci-Fi elements, characters and well-told story lived in my memories as I slowly absorbed it into my psyche. That’s one thing I loved about Audrey Niffenegger’s writing. It was always unexpected, with twists and turns, and through the pages you begin to know each character deeper and deeper and love them deeply.
In this story, it was essentially a story about a pair of twins, Julia and Valentina Poole, and romantic love. Not many of us are twins and surely it takes twins to understand what twins go through. The main characters in this story are stuck on being twins, so much so that they don’t dare to venture out and live their lives. I’m not sure all twins have such extreme and devoted feelings to each other, that they would even suppress their teenage hormones when it comes to discovering about the opposite gender and the experience of sex.
When their aunt, Elspeth Noblin (whom the twins have never met), dies and leaves the twins her flat on condition that the twins’ parents can never step foot inside, the American twins begin a whole new adventure England, away from their parents and everyone they know.
Central to the story is Highgate Cemetery (the book seems to be a full-fledged brochure for the cemetery), the tourguide Robert who was Elspeth’s boyfriend/lover, Martin (an OCD-stricken crossword puzzle inventor) and his wife Marijke.
With every chapter I discover more about the relationships between each character and I could not stop turning the page. There are a few ghosts in the book and they all play a role in the development of the story.
I did find that the resolution of the immediate problem that was bothering the twins was somewhat bizarre and difficult to believe. There would have been a hundred more different ways to resolve the problem than the one they had chosen. It is here that I believe the other characters went along with it because sub-consciously they too wanted to realize their own hidden agenda. Curiosity killed the cat?
The romantic devotion between Robert and Elspeth was touching, as Robert pines for Elspeth for more than a year after her death. So is the love between Martin and Marijke, even though Marijke had to initiate a separation and move to Amsterdam as she could no longer stand the OCD-ways of Martin.
Absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder. But at times, we live in illusions of what things would be like if the dead really did come back to life and this book went all out to explore this premise. The main lesson here in this book is to accept things as they are and act rationally, even in the name of love or it may just result in horrible consequences that you could not live with for the rest of your life.
All in all, I was carried fast by this dark tale and couldn’t put HFS down. I do admit this was not as good as TTW, though I won’t say it was a disappointment.
My rating: 7/10
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