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26a: A Novel Hardcover – September 6, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 277 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (September 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060820918
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060820916
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,685,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. From the very beginning of Evan's first novel (winner of Britain's inaugural Orange Award for New Writers), readers know they're in for something rich and strange. Two small furry creatures scurry through the night to their deaths—and are reborn as twins Georgia and Bessi. The middle daughters of Aubrey Hunter and his Nigerian wife, Ida, they occupy the attic room at 26a Waifer Avenue in London. When the twins are eight, the family takes a three-year sojourn in Nigeria, where they live a relatively grander life ("We had servants," Bessi later brags), but where Georgia has a terrifying run-in with a "ju-ju man" that changes her. The novel meanders as the girls grow, pausing to explore an intricate weave of childhood fantasy, African religion, nightmare, pop mythology and the intense inner world of identical twins. All the Hunters are drawn with care: hard-working Ida, who misses her mother so desperately that she converses with her daily in her head; hard-drinking Aubrey, whom liquor transforms into a Mr. Hyde; older sister Bel, rushing into adult sexuality; little Kemy, in love with Michael Jackson; and the twins, with their jokes, adventures and plans for a flapjack empire. This is a funny, haunting, marvelous debut. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–The four sisters at 26 Waifer Avenue, in a somewhat shabby London neighborhood, must deal with their alcoholic English father and their spirit-talking Nigerian mother. Twins Bessi and Georgia Hunter create their own world in their attic room. Although their older and younger siblings are allowed to share in it occasionally, the bond between Bessi and Georgia goes beyond typical sisterhood, and the two cannot always determine where one ends and the other begins. While they are growing up, this is not such an issue, but as they approach adulthood, the conflict between separate interests and loyalty to one another becomes more pronounced. Yet even as Bessi tries to forge a distinct identity, and a heartbreaking secret of Georgia's threatens to come between them, they find that they cannot easily escape the oneness of their relationship. Evans's first novel brims with lyricism and mysticism. The author deftly captures the voices of all six family members as each one struggles with questions of identity. Meeting the topics of depression and suicide head-on, Evans treats these issues with a respect and grace that underscore the eventual triumph of spirit within the Hunter family.–Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Library System, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
5 star
44%
4 star
38%
3 star
0%
2 star
19%
1 star
0%
See all 16 customer reviews
For me, it seemed a bit off and unnecessary.
Simrit Singh
One cannot go further until the other one goes first and if one breaks, well, the other one will carry all the weight until her partner recovers.
Lena M. Willis
Evans has a real gift for poetic prose and imagery.
Kharabella

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Lena M. Willis on June 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
26A by Diana Evans introduces readers to the lives of identical twin sisters. Bessi and Georgie are intricately connected from even before the womb, as the author so uniquely illustrates. The story is set in England, in a suburb of London called Neasden, their address being 26 Waifer Avenue (the "A" signifying the attic where the twins reside). Bessi and Georgie are bi-racial and live with their mother, Ida, who fled from Lagos, Nigeria to avoid an arranged marriage; their father, Aubrey, who is English and a successful businessman who met their mother while in Nigeria on an extended business trip; their older sister, Isabel (Bel) and their younger sister, Kemy. All of the sisters are extremely close and very protective of each other. However, their older and younger sisters make special effort to protect the bond of the twins. Their space is respected and no one enters their world without permission. The sisters are an extreme comfort and support to each other as they deal with their parents impending "divorce" and cope with their father's frequent bouts of anger, as they often refer to him as Dr. Jekyll or Mr Hyde, depending on his behavior that day.

What resonated most about 26A was the way in which the author described the relationship between Bessi and Georgie. Evans literally blew me away with how she described a relationship that I, as an identical twin, could never begin to put into words myself - and probably never would, because some of the things shared seemed as natural as breathing. For example, Bessi and Georgie "share" dreams. Georgie visits a character in her dreams named Gladstone that she talks to Bessi about all the time, as if he is a real part of their family. Another example is how they feel each other's discomfort or pain.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lola. M on November 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
In this magnificent debut, Diana Evans captures the magic and complexity of childhood with such honesty and candor it will take you right back to your own memories. To quote an excerpt:

"On the outside of their front door Georgia and Bessi had written in chalk '26a', and on the inside 'G + B', at eye level, just above the handle. This was the extra dimension. The one after sight, sound, smell, touch and taste where the world multiplied and exploded because it was the sum of two people. Bright was twice as bright. All the colours were extra. Girls with umbrellas skipped across the wallpaper and Georgia and Bessi could hear them laughing."

Georgia and Bessi are identical twins growing up in Neasden, London. Their mother is a Nigerian immigrant who pines after her homeland and converses with 'spirits' while their father, an English accountant, drowns his sorrows in the bottle. Despite these difficulties, Georgia and Bessi grow up as confident and imaginative girls, escaping in their own world of fantasy and possibility.

What makes this novel so successful is the ultra-delicious writing, sprinkled with unusual linguistic devices and elements of 'magical realism'. Add to that animated, well-crafted characters and a story line that is hard to put down!

Part hilarious, part endearing, part sobering, 26a is a moving ode to childhood, the pains of growing up and the magic of 'twinhood'.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Arc Wrighter on March 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
I listened to this on tape, read by the amazing Adjoa Andoh. I don't know if I would have appreciated all the playful language if I had been reading silently. The language, the view through children's viewpoints (which not many of us actually grow out of anyway, the great story telling all made me keep listening. The troubles near the end may disturb ome readers, but, in spite of mystical touches, the difficulties of the lives are not treated fancifully. I was quite interested in the characters in spite of their great differences from my milieu.
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Format: Paperback
This started interestingly enough...twins that seemed joined from a past life. But it quickly derailed into non-stop depressing, life-altering tragedies. It WAS well written, despite the authors intentional use of poor grammar (the character's London and Nigerian accents). But the ending was meaningless and a true disappointment for this reader who stuck it out, only to be disappointed. I was hoping for another Audrey Niffenegger"s "Her Fearful Symmetry", but I got a Thomas Hardy remake instead.
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By Steffie B on July 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book can fool you with its magical writing, because it handles some pretty heavy topics (like depression and abuse) so well. It is realistic and true without losing a mystical feeling of "oneness" that permeates the sisters and also their Nigeria, even while trying to fit in at school and in their young lives. The characters are beautiful and thoroughly written. Just a wonderful book. I look forward to reading more from this author!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In her first published novel, Diana Evans masterfully weaves together the twin realities of growing up in a fractured, multicultural, essentially modern family and the magical world shared only by two sisters whose bond serves as a model of familial togetherness and companionship so intense it makes one person of two.

Born to an English banker and his Nigerian-born wife in the London suburb of Neasden, twin protagonists Georgia and Bessi Hunter claim as their shared birthright a multiplicity of locales -- the deceptively pedestrian environs of their middle-class English home, the unfamiliar Nigerian homeland of their mother, and the many realms they explore together in dreams and visions. None of these places is without considerable danger, and the twins face great horrors in each. Their growing-up throughout the course of the novel is a struggle against abuse, alienation, and uncertainty.

Evans relates her balanced and forceful plot with a strong lyric voice informed by her experience with poetry. Though she occasionally gives way to melodrama, readers are unlikely to resent her for it, given her rich appreciation for her characters' inner lives and her peculiar sense of linguistic and narrative invention.
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