Saturday, 6 March 2010

Double Stitch by John Rolfe Gardiner

Double StitchSynopsis: In 1926, Rebecca and Linda Carey arrive at a progressive orphanage outside of Philadelphia. They're identical twins, ten years old, copper skinned and beautiful, with perfectly matched faces and manners that doom them to a mischief of switched identities. Drayton Orphanage is a wealthy campus of fairy-tale stone cottages and modern education, but these girls are unimpressed. They want to get as far away "as a dollar will send a post card." Implacably sharp-tongued, confident and aloof, they enthrall everyone at the orphanage but bridle under the attention, drawn only to each other.

While their guardians wage war with their own divided personalities, Becca and Linny battle for control of their twinned life. Locked in a paired world, they can't help themselves from switching names and clothes and tricking their teachers, house mothers, and peers. But when their black grandmother turns up unexpectedly, one twin imagines herself colored, the other white, and a painful rift grows between the two who had often before not known which one was which. When the apostate Freudian Otto Rank comes to Philadelphia and becomes interested in the twins, he and his prodigy (and lover) Anais Nin, see what no one else does - that the twins are becoming dangerous to each other: "We must all recognize the double who stalks us. Guilt is shifted to the shoulders of the double. Fear, too. In the end there may be paranoia, extreme mistrust. And if the other haunts relentlessly it must of course, in the end, be destroyed."

Far from blind to the threat they hold for each other, the twins live in a nightmare of broken mirrors. As they come of age, they choose to separate from each other as well as thestifling world of the Orphanage. But, when at age seventeen they finally do escape, one to China, the other to California, their lives, still parallel, turn horrific - their shared willfulness and naivete lead them to similar straits. Together and apart, each is caught in a struggle to survive the fate of the double.
My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. The main characters are identical twins, Linny and Becca. They come to the orphanage when they’re 10 years old and the story is basically about them growing up and their struggles with their individual identities vs. their double identity.
Throughout the story the psychologists and the orphanage staff all believe that the twins could be a danger to each other if they stay too close together. But at the same time, their teachers don’t want to split them apart.
At one stage in the story, after finding out that their grandmother is coloured, Becca and Linny have a huge falling out. Becca believes she is black whereas Linny believes she is white. This conflict was really interesting and it affects the story again later on.
When they finish school the twins go their separate ways, Becca goes to China and Linny heads to San Francisco. This was the part of the story that I enjoyed the most I think. It was full of adventure and bad experiences for the twins, and even though they were so far apart they were still together in some way.

I loved this book. I have a slight obsession with identical twins anyway and I also love reading about psychology, so this book was perfect for me.
This book was a fascinating insight into identity struggles and the psychology of doubles. The story of the twins was amazing and I’ll definitely be reading this book again.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a fascinating read, especially with the added dimension of colour dividing them.