Sunday, August 25, 2013

New Release Review: The Twins, by Saskia Sarginson (recommended)


Goodreads summary:

They were inseparable until an innocent mistake tore them apart.

Growing up, Viola and Issy clung to each other in the wake of their mother's eccentricity, as she dragged them from a commune to a tiny Welsh village. They thought the three of them would be together forever.
But an innocent mistake one summer set them on drastically different paths. Now in their twenties, Issy is trying to hold together a life as a magazine art director, while Viola is slowly destroying herself, consumed with guilt over the events they unknowingly set into motion as children.

When it seems that Viola might never recover, Issy returns to the town they haven't seen in a decade, to face her own demons and see what answers, if any, she can find.

***

If I were to summarize The Twins, I would call it 'the story of twin girls coming to terms with their past.' However, that description alone sounds very cliche, so instead of elaborating on the plot, I'll talk about the execution.

The writing style is vibrant and picturesque, full of images and sensory details.

"Water dribbles through the ceiling in their bedroom. It seeps around the light fixing, spreading like a shadow, and drips into a bowl that Isolte put under it. It smells of moss and wet wood."

The story is narrated both in the past and in the present, from the point of view of both sisters. Viola's scenes are in first person, and Isolte's in third. This usually bothers me, but in this book, it was very appropriate. Viola is the self-contained, introverted sister, while Isolte is more focused on her relationship with the rest of the world. Their distinct characteristics might make them archetypical opposites, but that doesn't change the fact that they are fully realized, believable characters.

Another element I loved was how richly-developed the flashbacks were. 'Flashbacks' in stories usually imply Hollywood-esque tragedy scenes, but here, the scenes depicting the girls' childhood and upbringing are just as important as the scenes from their adult present. You see the girls running wild through the countryside, raised by a mother who tries and fails to live outside the bounds of society. The story is a gradual progression of events, which means it might not be for some, but those who enjoy this type of book will not be disappointed.

Overall, this is a beautifully-written story about sisterhood and guilt, and I highly recommend it.

***

The Twins comes out on Tuesday.

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