First of all--great title. I suppose credit must go to Blake but still, great title. This book was interesting in an utterly atmospheric but oddly plotted sort of way. You could see events coming down the pike from a long way off. What fascinated were the images/themes of doubled selves, fractured identity and repeated history. Every element of this novel was introduced and then revised and reinvented. That fun house mirror quality, and Niffenegger's matter of fact approach to ghosts is what compelled me rather than the significant plot points of the story.
And then there is the cemetery. Highgate Cemetery is spooky. I lasted four minutes before I had to leave, George Eliot or no George Eliot. It was winter, in my first term at Oxford (a university that has its fair share of spooky), and I was going down to London for the night with a friend. She kept going, I waited outside the Western Gate.
It isn't cemeteries in general. I can wander happily in Père Lachaise in Paris. There is a rightness to Jim Morrison, Collette, Chopin, Edith Piaf, Balzac and Oscar Wilde hanging out together for eternity. I love that it is customary to kiss Wilde's tomb only when wearing lipstick. But Highgate Cemetery is different. The clammy, grey damp and shady green overgrown quality sent me running for the road. Her Fearful Symmetry captures just this decaying, grey green splendor and then slowly paints each of the characters from this murky palette. The one character who grows brighter is the one I least expected to bloom. It was a lovely counterpoint but the feeling of gloomy, ghosty, misty sadness still pervades the story.
A lovely book but never ever before bed.