Steel's 46th heartbreaker delves into the seemingly inexhaustible dramatic depths of Titanic
lore, idyllic love, and delectable stars. Olivia and Victoria Henderson are beautiful, young, wealthy twins who live in upper-crust Croton-on-Hudson in upstate New York at the turn of the century. Despite their life of ease (playing tennis with the Astors, being courted by a Rockefeller), they do face the daily grind of caring for their beloved Pa, who has never recovered from Mrs. Henderson's death. Then along comes another forlorn widower, sexy Charles Dawson, whose wife perished at sea. "Damn shame she came back on the Titanic
," says Mr. Henderson--who doesn't know what the Lusitania
has in store for his family. As the plot thickens with the onset of World War I and the suffrage movement, Victoria--the demon seed of the dynamic duo--gets into a spot of trouble. Big enough that dutiful yet daring Olivia must bail her out in a way that it would spoil everything to reveal. If A Farewell to Arms
was adapted to an ABC Monday night movie, it might bear a resemblance to Mirror Image
. But in Hemingway, or on TV, there were never such devoted sisters. As the narrator puts it, reflecting on the feelings of one sister for the other, "She was her partner, her confidante, her friend, her cohort in all mischief ... the other side of her life, her heart ... the other side of the mirror."
From Publishers Weekly
The raven-haired twins in Steel's (The Klone and I) latest romance wend their way through the social dilemmas and crises of conscience that abound in the lives of two motherless heiresses. Flitting around Edith Wharton's New York and its fashionable countryside (the family home, Henderson Manor, is in Croton-on-Hudson), Olivia and Victoria Henderson come of age in high style and predictable prose. Their physical resemblance (even their father is unable to distinguish between them) exaggerates their temperamental differences. The rebel Victoria?smoker, drinker and suffragette?recklessly gives herself to a married womanizer, Tobias Whitticomb. Olivia dutifully keeps her father's houses and acts as the anxious guardian to her "baby" sister. She also befriends nine-year-old Geoff Dawson, whose mother has died on the Titanic. When Henderson pere decides to marry the disgraced Victoria to Geoff's father, Charles, Olivia's heart quietly breaks and the plot thickens. The convenience of the sisters' carbon-copy looks allows Victoria to run off to help the Allied cause in France and Olivia secretly to take her sister's place. Although Steel stretches credibility as the marriage heats up (Charles didn't notice that his wife was virginal again?), the reader is too busy being moved by the powerful events to quibble. Steel doesn't flinch from the realities of childbirth and war and reliably produces yet another suspenseful tearjerker.
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