Friday, 6 November 2020


The Girl in the Mirror, by Rose Carlyle.


            Sibling rivalry takes a horrible new twist in Rose Carlyle’s debut novel:  main protagonists are identical ‘mirror’ twins Summer and Iris Carmichael, who were born with several unusual quirks – Iris’s heart is on the right side of her chest  for example;  she ‘mirrors’ Summer in every way, except where it counts:  Summer is the good twin, the popular, radiant twin.  The one with all the luck.  And the whole family certainly needs some, for the twins’ despotic, philandering, very rich father has unexpectedly died and, instead of bequeathing his estate of one hundred million dollars fairly to his warring, various families he has instructed that the first of his daughters to produce a child shall inherit all of it.

            Naturally, this does nothing to bring all the siblings closer together;  instead of being united by grief, the opposite occurs.  Iris enters into a disastrous marriage which fails to produce the desired baby, but Summer marries for love, declaring that she doesn’t care about the money – she has been put on this earth to help people, as seen by her choice of career (nursing) where she met her wonderful husband, bereft after the tragic death of his first wife who left a little baby boy to be cared for.  No, money doesn’t mean a thing to Summer – besides, her husband Adam runs a chain of successful travel agencies established in the Seychelles by his family, so they are quite secure, in fact so secure that they are currently cruising on dear old dead dad’s ocean-going yacht Bathsheba in Thailand, but -  they’ve run into a bit of bother with the Thai authorities;  they have to sneak out of Thailand and sail to the Seychelles because their yacht paperwork is no longer valid, due to the baby’s unexpected illness and hospitalisation:  would Iris like to come and help Summer sail Bathsheba across the Indian Ocean, their old stamping ground?

            How could Iris possibly refuse?  She has always been a great sailor, much better than Summer, and to be back on Bathsheba, her favourite place in all the world, sailing her favourite ocean is finally a sign that her luck might be changing, even temporarily.  She hopes.

            And it goes without saying that that the worst does happen:  Summer is lost at sea and Iris, traumatised and grieving, sails Bathsheba  to the Seychelles, there to enter into a deception so overwhelming that she doesn’t know how to sustain it.  Iris, the bad twin, finally has everything her good twin had – but does she want it?

            Ms Carlyle is a smart and observant writer;  all her characters are chillingly credible and the plotting is first-class, but there’s a shocking twist to the tale at the end that leaves a bitter taste:  one hopes there will be a sequel so that someone will get what they deserve!  FOUR STARS

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