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*Starred Review* Niffenegger, a Chicago artist and writer with an elegantly romantic and otherworldly sensibility, earned international acclaim for The Time Traveler's Wife (2003). This season the film version of her best-selling debut will be quickly followed by this cunning and enrapturing ghost story. As evident in her exquisite, fairy tale-like illustrated novels, The Three Incestuous Sisters (2005) and The Adventuress (2006), Niffenegger has a discerning eye and a slyly gothic sensibility, elements that shape this tragicomic fantasy about two generations of twins. Valentina and Julia, inseparable, 20-year-old mirror image twins, are still living with their parents outside Chicago when they inherit a flat in London from Elspeth, their mother's long-estranged twin. Unaware of the painful secret that has kept Edwina and Elspeth apart, ethereal Julia and Valentina arrive in London to find they'll be living beside the historic Highgate Cemetery. The flat below theirs is occupied by Elspeth's broken-hearted, younger lover, Robert; the flat above is home to Martin, a crossword puzzle-maker plagued with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and it seems as though Elspeth is still in residence as a meddlesome ghost. With a sumptuously mournful mise-en-scene (Robert is a cemetery guide, as is the author), Niffenegger tells a gorgeously rendered, utterly bewitching, and profoundly unnerving tale of the mysteries of selfhood and death and the way love can be both a radiant and malevolent force.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2009 Booklist
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Elspeth Noblin has died of cancer and has left her London apartment to her estranged twin sister Edie's twin daughters, college-aged Julia and Valentina-with the provision that Edie never set foot in the apartment. The twins, unworldly, petite, and blonde (and oddly reminiscent of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen), claim their inheritance and meet their obsessive-compulsive neighbor, Martin, and Robert, Elspeth's shy, younger lover, who is writing a book about Highgate Cemetery (Elspeth's resting place). They eventually encounter Elspeth herself-though not, of course, in the flesh. Things take a sinister turn when their aunt plays a very nasty trick on Valentina that leaves her out of the picture, forever. Verdict The plot is unrealistic but could have been much more believable; the writing seems touched by the naOvete that radiates from the young twins. A puzzling book, like a Gorey drawing gone really icky. Fantasy lovers and lovers of The Time Traveler's Wife will want to consider. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/09.]-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Niffenegger follows up her spectacular The Time Traveler's Wife with a beautifully written if incoherent ghost story. When Elspeth Noblin dies, she leaves everything to the 20-year-old American twin daughters of her own long-estranged twin, Edie. Valentina and Julia, as enmeshed as Elspeth and Edie once were, move into Elspeth's London flat bordering Highgate Cemetery in a building occupied by Elspeth's lover, Robert, and the novel's most interesting character, Martin, whose wife is long suffering due to his crushing and beautifully portrayed OCD. The girls are pallid and incurious; they wander around London and spend time with Robert and Martin and Elspeth's ghost. Valentina's developing relationship with Robert arouses mild jealousy, and when Valentina pursues her interest in fashion design, Julia disapproves, which leads Valentina and Elspeth to concoct an extreme plan to allow Valentina to lead her own life. The plan, unsurprisingly, goes awry, followed by weakly foreshadowed and confusing twists that take the plot from dull to silly. While Niffenegger's gifted prose and past success will garner readers, the story is a disappointment. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved