Reviewed by Kelly Allen
A ghost, a
broken hearted widower, a man with serious OCD, and twins that are bound to a
specific contract… should they choose to accept. It’s all a bit too much to
take in. Audrey Niffenegger is fantastic
at writing people and places, but loses the plot with the plot itself in this
begins well; a mystery apartment, an Aunt Elspeth that was never known to the
twins, Julia and Valentina, and a chance of adventure. Who could refuse? The descriptions
of London and the view from the apartment over Highgate Cemetery are
intricately breath taking, but the story falls flat when the love story begins
between two of the living characters.
It all seems
so unreal and impossible, a feeling that only grows as the novel unravels to
the point that Elspeth (the ghost) will help Valentina fake her own death for a
short while so that she can have her freedom from her twin sister. Their plan
goes wrong, and Elspeth ends up keeping the ‘body’ for herself so that she can
attempt to live out the remainder of her life with their shared lover, Robert.
Julie begin to connect towards the end of the novel, whilst Elspeth and
Robert’s ending is far from happy. The novel has plenty of twists and turns,
however a lot of them are pretty unbelievable or terribly clichéd. The
characters are neither here nor there, and at no point did I feel any
connection or empathy towards any of them. In fact, the only love story that
made me feel connected was that of Martin and Marijke; his OCD has driven them
apart and when they reunite and he overcomes his fears, there is a sense of
complete happiness within the book for the first (and final) time.
If you like a
lot of detailed descriptions and a plotline that is mostly predictable, then
you might enjoy this novel. However, after reading The Time Traveler’s Wife, it is very difficult not to expect
‘something’ from this book, even if it was another beautifully written love
story. If you plan to read this with the hope that it will be remotely similar,
then you will be disappointed.