I picked this book up a while ago from a car boot sale (I can never resist ‘3 for £1’) because
a) I’ve heard great things about The Time Traveller’s Wife, but I tend to avoid books that ‘everyone’ reads (for a while at least).
b) I liked the front cover.
It only took me a couple of bus journeys to finish, but I can’t quite decide what I think about it as a whole.
General summary (which is difficult to do without giving away any twists): a set of spoilt American twins inherit a flat in London from the Aunt they’ve never met on the condition that their parents never cross the threshold. They come to the flat that their Aunt hasn’t quite departed from and make friends with her neighbours (including her toy boy). An important theme running through is grief, and how people deal with loss and letting go. But another, that I think everyone would be able to relate to, is the strive for individuality. In the book this struggle is a little more extreme than most of us will have experienced, because of all the twins, but it still struck a chord with me.
Her narrative tone is amazing, it’s so easy to get along with and there’s no ‘effort’ involved in the reading. It’s quite literally like you read one paragraph and suddenly find yourself seven chapters in. Her characters are brill too- very individual (varying from an obsessive compulsive crossword designer, to a cemetery enthusiast to a feral kitten) which makes to story seem ‘different’ despite the commonplace themes of ‘grief’, ‘romance’ and ‘family relationships’.
The thing I’m slightly less enthusiastic about (I think) is the plot. To start with I thought it was great, because Niffenegger kept throwing the crazy at me (I don’t know HOW I wasn’t expecting it to be a ghost story though.. it says it on the back!). But I feel like it got a bit too weird too fast towards the end… it stopped it from being as believable as the rest of the story which is a real shame. I always admire any writer that can make the mystical seem utterly realistic.
I’d recommend this book to you if you appreciate the quirky. Although I found the ending of this novel slightly unsatisfying, I think I’ll give The Time Traveller’s Wife a go (I really should- we have three copies furnishing othe shelves at home!).