I’d been wanting to read this book since… well since I finished The Time Traveller’s Wife. TTTW is probably my favourite EVER book, so having read that, I knew I had to read any other books that Niffeneger wrote. Then towards the end of November I found it in a book market (there’s one every weekend on the South Bank of the River Thames – nice) for a sillyly cheap price – looking almost new. Well, what could I do.
I wasn’t too sure about using it for the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge, but someone else had, and if it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for me – and reading this took me to 11 out of the 12 books I needed for the year, so it totally worked for me!
When Elspeth Noblin dies she leaves her beautiful flat overlooking Highgate Cemetery to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina Poole, on the condition that their mother is never allowed to cross the threshhold. But until the solicitors’ letter falls through the door of their suburban American home, neither Julia nor Valentina knew their aunt existed. The twins feel that in London their own lives can finally begin but have no idea that they have been summoned into a tangle of fraying lives, from the obsessive-compulsive crossword setter who lives above them to their aunt’s mysterious and elusive lover, who lives below them and works in the cemetery itself.
As the twins unravel the secrets of their aunt, who doesn’t seem quite ready to leave her flat, even after death, Niffenegger weaves a delicious and deadly ghost story about love, loss and identity.
Honestly, the book doesn’t compare to The Time Traveller’s Wife – but that’s not to say it’s not good – it’s just not awesome. I did really enjoy it, but what I found was I didn’t like some characters – in fact I disliked more characters than I liked. But, I really liked some characters.
The story grabbed me almost from the beginning with the mystery behind Elspeth and her sister’s estrangement, then carried dragging me in with the tangled lives of the other characters.
I guess you’d have to say this is a ghost story, and there’s definitely a little fantasy mixed in there, but there’s also love, romance, friendship, family and more. Enough to have me glued to it. I was disappointed in the ending, it’s hard to say why without giving too much away, but the positions people finished in felt wrong, especially when the one I didn’t like did well and the one I loved didn’t do.
Regardless, it was a great book, and I’d recommend it to anyone that likes a little mystery, a little romance, some family stuff… anything like that. I really can’t wait for her next book…