Top positive review
27 people found this helpful
Two-ness, five stars
on 1 April 2005
A complete list of books dealing with twins and the special bond between them would probably take longer to read than most novels, but few of the novels on that list could give such an impression of what it is like to experience that bond, or be as enjoyable to read, as '26a'.
Evans' novel tells the story of the Hunter family, and especially the twins Bessi and Georgia. We follow them from childhood to adulthood, in Neasden and Nigeria, and through the different experiences of their lives. One of the impressive aspects of this novel (and there are many) is the way that Evans gives the reader such an impression of what it means to be a twin, not by characters telling us but by showing us the way the twins think and interact so that we can see and feel it for ourselves.
But it would be wrong to give the impression that the focus is entirely on the twins. The rest of the Hunter family all have their own character journeys which are extremely well handled. You might not like each member of the family all the time, but they are still compelling and real. All of the incidental characters in the novel also leave a strong imprint on the mind of the reader, even if their appearance is fleeting, such is Evans' skill with swift characterisation.
Another way in which '26a' is impressive is the way it balances all the different elements. In particular, the way that comedy is mixed with tragedy so that rather than clashing they actually enhance each other. '26a' is a book that is frequently funny, but which also deals with the more distressing side of life - and Evans shows herself equally adept at both.
But perhaps the most impressive thing about '26a' is that it is a debut novel. If you didn't know this when you read it you could be forgiven for not realising, such is the assurance and the strength of voice Evans displays. Her prose is sharp, funny and moving, her characters convincing and compelling, and her future very bright indeed. I strongly recommend you read this novel now, before you're accused of band-wagon jumping when she really takes off - because she will.