Published by Hachette Book Group on 27 August 2013
Genres: Adult, Women's Fiction
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.
*I received a free ARC of The Twins from Hachette Book Group via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*
The Twins is a haunting story of two girls – twins – who grew up with their mom close to the woods, liberty, freedom and wildness coloured their childhood until something terrible happens that sets things in motion that makes both of them feel separate, both from each other and strangely also from themselves and who they always thought they were. Switching points of views between Issy and Viola, and also mixing the time from their childhood to present time, The Twins takes the readers on a slow, sometimes painful and sometimes beautiful ride.
Selfish, as only teenagers can be, Viola and Issy want their lives to stay the way it is – they want their mom to be only with them, and are unwilling to share her with someone else. Even as the twins become best friends with two boys who are also twins, they want their mother to be only theirs. So when Rose starts seeing Frank, and wants her daughters to treat his young daughter Polly as their little sister, they do whatever they can to get rid of both of them.
The Twins truly shows how stupid choices kids make can impact several lives, and that time does not at all heal all wounds, whether those wounds are physical or psychological. Dealing with grief and a change of scenery quite differently, Viola and Issy drift apart, but none of them can stop thinking about John and Michael, their mom and even Frank and Polly. The story unfolds oh so slowly, showing the readers tiny glimpses of truth between the two sisters’ trips to the past – be it in thought or through dreams.
Written in first person present time, The Twins never made me confused when the point of view shifted from Issy to Viola and back again, their voices are so different, and the way they see things and react to things very individual as well. And in the background almost all through the story, is the huge shadow that Issy doesn’t want to touch, or think about. She is still so horrified of what happened partly because of her, it is almost impossible for her to keep moving forward knowing about it, and she would like to make sure it stays hidden forever.
Very deep, The Twins also touches on the fashion industry since Issy is an editor in a fashion magazine. There is talk about both anorexia and aids, and I thought the explanations about anorexia and the despair a sick person feels was extremely well done. Of course, this is hard to read about, and a lot of the happenings are so raw and honest that it is not exactly a quick and easy read. However, the prose is beautiful, and the straight-forward way the different themes are dealt with touched me deeply.
A mixture of childhood dreams and the cruel reality of the world, how to deal with souls that seem broken beyond repair, and how to truly pick up the pieces and work to finally be able to move forward again, The Twins is haunting, sad and enchanting all at the same time. If you haven’t read it yet, please do yourself a favor and pick it up – and be prepared to go deep into the minds and lives of Issy and Viola.
The story of our conception was the ordinary kind they tell you about in biology lessons. You know how it goes: an athletic sperm hits the egg target and new life forms.
Of course, it hurts to starve. But you can use those pangs like a knife to slice out the bad things inside you. Eventually you’ll come to crave that feeling. Because hunger is a friend.
She doesn’t drink. She’s never had the desire to drown herself in that kind of oblivion. There are no gaps in her memory. She likes the feeling of control she has when other people are loosening up, their words running too freely. She’s been at parties where people she hardly knows have confided secrets, whispered their sexual preferences, confessed to infidelities. That kind of vulnerability scares her. Why would anyone do it to themselves?
When we’d asked Mummy about bras, she’d laughed, cupping her hands over her breasts and giving them a careless squeeze. “You are funny! don’t you know that women don’t have to wear those things any more?”
My stomach turned at the steepness of the drop, but I felt a longing to stretch out and embrace the vaulted sweep of sky.
The boys were more than just human; they’d always seemed part earth, part animal, and always inextricably bound into each other.