Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Twin PactTwin Pact by Eleanor C. Horner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Starts With a Suicide . . . Ends With a ??
This story follows all the rules of good storytelling and I was riveted from the first page. Told from the perspective of a 24 year-old woman, she copes with the aftermath of her twin sister's very public and quite spectacular suicide. Margaret (Maggie) and Michelle (Shell) were identical, mirror-image twins who shared a life and a language, and even though they had been apart physically as young adults (one in NY and one in LA), in spirit they were inseparable.

The surviving twin, Maggie, is a Juilliard-trained violinist. She uses lyrical reference to disclose her feelings about her sister, an accomplished artist, and the suicide. The author writes in present tense to follow Maggie from LA, where her sister lived, to Moon, Alaska, where she intends to spread her sister's ashes. Connected so closely with her sister, Maggie appears to believe that her own suicide is now in order and she plans it. The author switches to past tense throughout Maggie's journey to tell a series of anecdotal stories about the twins' life together growing up. We come to know the twins intimately and they are fascinating. With each page I fell more in love with them and wondered and worried, would Maggie follow suit and commit her own suicide? I turned pages at rapid rate to find out.

Unfortunately, the version I read had an inordinate number of typos; however, I must say, the writing was so good and the story so powerful that I wasn't distracted by them. I mention it only because material this good demands a decent copy editor prior to its next printing.

Very well done and I highly recommend this book to readers looking for strong storytelling and character development.

View all my reviews

Thursday, September 05, 2013

The Gift of RainThe Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a beautifully written story about love and loyalty, friendship and family. Set during World War II amid the Japanese occupation of Malaya, there is a rich blend of cultures and conflicts, personal and global. The narrator, Philip, is a child of dual heritage (British and Chinese) who recounts his struggle to find his place in a chaotic world. From a vantage point some 50 years after the War, he explains his past actions leading to his decisions to work with the Japanese to a friend of his former sensei, Endo-san. Philip exhibits such detailed and vivid descriptions—sights, sounds, smells, feelings—that the reader forgets he is relating from memory.

Ultimately Philip learns to “accept that there are things in this world we can never explain and life will be understandable. That is the irony of life. It is also the beauty of it.” He also learns to understand why, at an early age, a fortune-teller said he was born with the “gift of rain.” The rains (monsoons) figure prominently throughout the landscape of the story.

I highly recommend this book.

View all my reviews