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3.8 out of 5 stars
The Twins (Unabridged)
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon 25 September 2013
This is a deceptively deep and dark novel that belies the apparent superficiality of the close identical twins, Viola and Isolte. Their mother, Rose, is still in the hippy era 60's, full of idealism and in denial of the twins' father's identity that rubs onto them. They embark on life's journey. Needless to say, their paths take different directions completely defying their childhood Suffolk upbringing.

Their encounters with friends, Michael and John, also twins, add to the murkiness of recollections of trouble-free days of the past as both girls develop personal problems.

Saskia Sarginson's narrative is captivating, holding the secrets and tragedies that are later revealed and are central to understanding the twins' destinies. An intense and intriguing novel. Thoroughly entertaining.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 29 November 2013
I would have given it 5 stars as it was a very good story with a lot of different characters, one thing let it down, it is set around 3 different times in the girls lives but sometimes it switched times in the middle of a chapter and a few times in the middle of a paragraph !!!!Once you were aware it could happen you prepared for it. Over all a good book. Would have liked a few more chapters at the end to finish it off more.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 14 November 2013
This book is set with flashbacks to the 70's and 80's and in that regard was very interesting as this is a period I remember very well. The Great Storm being just one such incident.

But it was a book that I found very hard to get into. I got interested about half way through and even then it didn't fully grab me.

The writing style goes between bland and irritating. It tries to emulate Jodi Picoult style with the story being told from two perspectives and two time periods but the changes from one to the other are not clearly demarked and you can go from one period to the other from one paragraph to the next with no indication. So I was often half way through a paragraph and a bit confused until I realised the change of scene. Even a blank line spare between paragraphs would help.

But, unlike some other reviewers, I found the ending really good. It didn't leave me hanging as much as some - and I normally find that very irritating. Indeed, if it had not been for the ending I would probably have rated this book as a 1*

If you have bought this book already I would say persevere.

If you have not bought it yet then you may find others better.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This is a good story. The plight of Issie and Viola, identical twins and their relationship with their dreamy, wayward mother as well as two rough boys, also identical twins, grew on me. I was irritated, in the beginning by the dreary side story of Issie's workplace in London and her present-day boyfriend - all irrelevant and could easily have been cut. Compare that with the wonderful descriptions of the children's wild life in the Suffolk countryside by the sea and the creeping disaster about to befall them all. The unusual ending was very satisfying.
(Freak Out! My Life with Frank Zappa)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 July 2014
Loved this. Beautifully written. The writing weaves through the years, told from each twin's perspective. Explores the relationship between the girls, and builds up a colourful and heartbreaking background. My only criticism is that the addition of a pause or break in the text layout would make it easier to follow as in the kindle format the writing flows from one time to another without so much as a paragraph break which was a little confusing at times. Despite this, it's an excellent read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 August 2014
It took me a few attempts to finish this book; mostly due to the fact that the first half of the book is really hard to get into. I feel it could have done with some serious editing; something deep, dark and dangerous happened when the twins were young and they've both used different coping mechanisms which has led them to where they are when the book starts.

The book doesn't really become interesting till about half way through; I feel this is where the writer could have explored the changes in the twins behaviour more. Nowhere do we see how people reacted to the twins in terms of what had happened and how people's reactions could have effected the twins.

The book ends well; with just enough information to know what happens with each of the characters but not so mush that you're spoon fed a fairy tail ending
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on 2 July 2014
Isolte (was never sure how to pronounce it) and Viola are twins with a hippy mother and free lifestyle. They move to the forest in Suffolk after their mother leaves a commune in Wales. They meet and befriend another set of twins John and Michael who are rough boys used to violence at the hands of their father. The boys are almost feral and the forest is their playground. The foursome spend hours in the forest free and with little boundaries or restrictions. The book is made up of flashbacks and you learn the mother is an alcoholic who struggles with life. The girls eventually leave the forest to reside with their aunt following a tragedy. In the present Isolte has a successful career in fashion and boyfriend Ben but Viola has an eating disorder and is ill in hospital for much of the story. It is unclear what happened to John and Michael after the girls left the forest following a tragedy until Isolte takes a trip back to Suffolk trying to lay some ghosts to rest.
I have seen other reviewers say they disliked the animal death in the book and thought it unnecessary. I must admit I didn't really like it but understood the reason behind it. In one scene the boys kill a rabbit but it was not reckless violence. The rabbit was ill and suffering. The boys killed it to put it out of its misery. To me this demonstrated although the boys were rough and prone to violence they had compassion. It also showed their proximity to nature and the forest around them.
The reason I have given it 3 and not 4 is because it changes from 1980's and 1970's often and sometimes this happens during an actual chapter making it hard to know which period you are in. It became easier as the book progressed because you were expecting the changes but this seemed a little odd at times. I also found at times the writing a little too descriptive and waffley and the ending far to open. What happened to Isolte & Ben? Viola & John? Overall I liked the story and would read another by the author.
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on 8 May 2014
I really liked reading The Twins.

Why did I decide to read The Twins by Saskia Sarginson
Because when I was pregnant I wanted twins and I love reading stories about twins.

What I loved about the story of The Twins were the twins names Isolte and Viola.

The twins mother would not tell the twins who their father was. All the twins know is that their mother met him at a festival in California. The twins do suspect that their father is a famous singer Jim Morrison as the picture on their mother album cover is signed by him and she is always playing Jim's album.

Isolte one of the twins has to visit her twin sister Viola in hospital as she has anorexia. For Viola, this is her third time that she has been admitted to hospital. As isolte visits her twin she can see that a yellow tube threading from Viola's right nosrril across her cheek and behind her ear. The tube is stuck down with tape . Liquid calories are sent creeping through the tube straight into Viola's stomach.

This story brought back memories for me.

When I was very young I used to see the singer Lena Zavaroni a lot back stage. We became good friends writing to each other. Fans from Lena Zavaroni's fan club who I hang out with were amazed at how well Lena and I knew each other and chatted for so long. I was deeply upset when Lena Zavaroni died. I watched Lena Zavaroni get thinner and thinner, but at that such young age all those years ago I knew nothing of the word anorexia like we all know it so well today.

Lots happen in The Twins that I will spoil for readers.
All readers that read The Twins I hope you all enjoy it as much as I have.
Review by ireadnovel.wordpress.com
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Saskia Sarginson's first novel is the story of Isolte and Viola, identical twin sisters who move with their hippy mother Rose from a commune in Wales to a remote Suffolk village during the 1970s. There they have a wonderful life, experimenting with cooking wild mushrooms, roaming the forest, playing with their cat and inventing marvellous games with Michael and John, twin brothers who live in the village. Things begin to go wrong when their mother runs out of money, and decides to marry Frank, a rather dull Design and Technology teacher with a small, irritating daughter called Polly. As the story moves seamlessly between the 1970s, the girls' adolescence in London and their adult life in London in the 1990s we learn that something terrible must have happened soon after Rose announced her marriage plans: by the time the girls are in their late twenties Rose is dead, Michael and John have not been in contact with Isolte and Viola for many years, and now Viola is battling with terrible anorexia, while Isolte is haunted by nightmares connected to Suffolk, where she dares not go. However, once Isolte has finally decided to face her demons and return to Suffolk, she realizes that the sisters can only survive if they confront their past, and face up to what actually happened that summer when they were twelve, and its consequences.

Sarginson is a cut above your average popular women's fiction writer in certain respects. Her prose is very readable, the way the novel moved from one time period to another was fascinating, and her descriptions of Suffolk very beautiful. The strange love between Viola and John was also beautifully depicted. However, in her desire to write a gripping plot, Sarginson ends up with a story that can be decidedly melodramatic. I didn't believe in one of the violent deaths described in the novel at all, and felt that what happened to Rose was rather unbelievable, bearing in mind her closeness to her children. I was puzzled with the whole 'John mistaking Isolte for Viola' plot strand - he'd seemed to be able to tell the difference between the girls quite happily for a long time. And Sarginson was noticeably more interested in the Suffolk bits of the story than the London bits: while she wrote movingly about Viola's anorexia and Isolte's night terrors, Isolte's boyfriend Ben was a cardboard cut-out 'amiable wealthy man' and the whole plot strand about Isolte's job at the glossy magazine and her dismissal just fizzeld out. Ultimately I found this a rather uneven book - some lovely writing and some really arresting scenes, but also much that I either didn't believe in or found a bit cliched. Still - I'd recommend it with some reservations for the interesting writing on twins, the unusual love story and the beauty of the Suffolk scenes - and it's a quick read too (I read it in a day and a half over the Bank Holiday).

Three and a half stars and I'll be interested to see what Sarginson does next.
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on 16 January 2014
I bought this as it was recommended by a friend and because it was about identical twins. I'm normally fairly easily pleased with books and enjoy most genres but this did not live up to its recommendation.

I did have to keep going back and checking which time period I was reading about, as it seemed to be somewhat anachronistic and confusing at times. Apparently the Hungerford massacre was described as occurring at a period during the early 1970's while the twins were children and their mother was alive in the story. I seem to recall this event actually happening in about 1987 and in the book at that time the girls are grown up and their mother long dead. If this was not the case the book didn't make the different times of the narrative clear enough.

In addition, on the first page the narrator describes how twins were 'one person first if only for a millisecond'. Twins separate much later than this (it's days). You'd expect someone writing a book about twins to know this. These things are perhaps trivial, but they do break the spell of the book and undermine the authority of the writer.

Despite reading it in a day, I didn't find it compelling and found it hard to care about any of the characters. The descriptive detail was a bit puzzling too: the `Georgian cottage' in Islington? And did the Great Storm of October 1987 occur in the early evening? I remember it as being in the middle of the night... Distracting too was the mention of someone's hair being in `bangs' (a fringe?). I've never heard an English person use this expression; Americanisms like `purse' for handbag etc in an English narrative voice often occur in British books and I suppose that this happens in the hope of there being an American market but wonder why they can't adjust the editions slightly for different markets.....

I think the book has some good ideas but they are not developed effectively.
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