When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt, only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina move to Elspeth’s flat, which borders Highgate Cemetery in London. They come to know the building’s other residents. There is Martin, a brilliant and charming crossword puzzle setter suffering from crippling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Marjike, Martin’s devoted but trapped wife; and Robert, Elspeth’s elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. As the girls become embroiled in the fraying lives of their aunt’s neighbors, they also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including–perhaps–their aunt, who can’t seem to leave her old apartment and life behind.
This is a tough book to review without giving too much away, so this will be a short review!
Quicker read than I thought this was going to be, this is not a repeat of the Time Traveller’s wife. It’s a straight linear narrative of Elspeth dying, leaving her flat to her twin nieces (one literally the mirror image of the other) and what happens over the next year when they come from the US to stay.
Highgate Cemetery makes a great “guest billing”. The OCD neighbour upstairs seems to accept new people in his apartment a little to easily (especially since his wife of 20+ years has just left him because of his compulsions) but on the whole it’s an enjoyable book if I found it a less heart wrenching book the TTTW.