'So nobody wanted us! I'm surprised you didn't exchange us for ration stamps', volatile Charlotte explodes in an argument with her Aunt Vivian, when she is grown-up and living with her lover in California. 'Does the space ever close over, I wonder, the space with no mother in it!' her sister Iona still asks, when she herself is newly married with a son of her own. Charlotte and Iona MacIntyre, fraternal twins born in 1943, are brought up by their puritanical, war-damaged Fardie in the wilds of Scotland. He imposes a strict, frugal regime on his young daughters: psalms, punishments - and, above all, silence. The girls' young mother, Olivia MacIntyre, died when they were two. Their hero - and glamorous uncle, Ormonde - was killed, under mysterious circumstances, in WWII. Even their aunt Vivian, whose ancient hat conceals the dense blue eyes that led to her secret, has her silence, a point beyond which she retreats. As the twins pursue their very different adult lives, their questions don't go away. Only when their father is dying, does their curious story unravel and their elusive mother is finally revealed to them as she really was. Through the anguished, amusing, exuberant voices of her two protagonists the author explores the recurring effects of damage within a family and the obsessive need to discover one's true identity. 'Sarah Wiseman is such a good vivid novelist born to the trade. Things happen, people change, landscapes leap to life. She's just so readable.' - Fay Weldon. Philip Glazebrook writes "The vividly-realised background to this serious and powerful novel - the remote highland shore where their home lies - forms the childhood world in which two children, fraternal twins, have no alternative but to accept the reality imposed upon them by a menagerie of damaged adults, alive and dead. Slowly, and in many different parts of the world - Sarah Wiseman's well-travelled pen puts foreign scenes convincingly before the reader's eyes - the certainties they had counted on are revealed as lies. Truth is the opposite of trust. No one, not even the dead, are inanimate in this book. The reader will believe in the forceful dynamism of a large cast of diverse and interesting characters, which is achieved by Wiseman's ability to focus her imagination, as a magnifying glass can focus the sun's rays, until the person or the place under the glass bursts into a flame of life. You feel that the scenes and characters - a script writer living on the beach at Malibu, for example - are so well-known to the author that their reality is unquestionable. This book deals with a harsh world. But Wiseman's approach is so fresh, her writing so lively - wonderful metaphors light up each page - and her sympathy for humanity so evident, that this book leaves a glow of satisfaction in the reader's mind. It is the work of a wise woman." Sarah Paton Wiseman was born in Scotland at the start of WWII. In 1969, she moved to Mexico with her husband and children where she worked as editor and writer, creating some of the first books for Mexican children drawing on their native myths and legends. During those years she developed her interest in fiction and joined the Tramontane Poetry Group, publishing poems and short stories for American magazines. Presently living in Somerset, Sarah Wiseman returns in her imagination to childhood holidays in Argyllshire for the background of her first novel, "The Gin Trap".
Kennedy And Boyd
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