Monday, October 26, 2009

The Book I Want to Live In

Right now I am reading Her Fearful Symmetry by the Chicago based writer of The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger. If you've read either book you know that Audrey places her characters in the City of Chicago, the Chicago suburbs and other Midwest areas like the shores of Southwest Michigan. I love this about her books. It's so personal to me to read of her fictional characters in real life places I've been before. Henry in The Time Traveler's Wife is a librarian at Chicago's Newberry Library and visits clubs and locations I've frequented myself. His wife Clare's family home on the shores of Michigan is near the Scanlan beach house where I spend many summer weekends and holidays. In Audrey's newest books, Her Fearful Symmetry she takes 2 of her characters out of the suburbs of Chicago and moves them to London. I've only started this book and already I'm in heaven with the locations.

Back in 2001 I visited London with my Mom and sister for a girls week in our favorite city. On one of our last days in London, Mom and Stacy wanted to see Shakespeare's Globe Theater and I was more interested in finding the famous Highgate Cemetery. I set off with a map of the Tube, a small picnic, an umbrella and a camera. Highgate Cemetery is a heavily wooded, Victorian-in-style cemetery in Highgate London and is divided into east and west sections. Many cemetery junkies and/or history bugs know Highgate Cemetery as the final resting place of a few famous people such as the philosopher Karl Marx, the parents of writer Charles Dickens and Elizabeth Siddal, the wife and muse of painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti. This thickly overgrown and darkly lush cemetery is also famous for the so called "Highgate Vampire". (If you are interested in more information about Highgate Cemetery, there is a page on Facebook and numerous websites).

In Her Fearful Symmetry the author moves her characters (creepy identical twins) from Chicago to an apartment next to the cemetery in London. As she was researching her book, the author acted as a tour guide amongst the tombs (tours are organized by The Friends of Highgate Cemetery). Supposedly the cemetery was also the inspiration for Neil Gaiman's wonderful story The Graveyard Book. The more I read Her Fearful Symmetry the more I want to live inside the book. I want to live in a spacious apartment steps away from Highgate Cemetery where I could spend my free time making grave rubbings, spotting foxes and waiting for the ghosts and vampires to rustle in the trees.

No comments: