Ruby's Reviews > The Twin's Daughter

The Twin's Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
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's review
Jan 06, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: teen, young-adult, historical, gothic
Read in September, 2010

This review was first posted on

The Twin's Daughter is that rare find in the Teen section these days: a Historical novel that is not paranormal. Some of my favorite Teen books are Historicals. So when I saw the Twin's Daughter, I prepared myself for a Bewitching Season-style fantasy. Don't get me wrong. I loved The Bewitching Season (not so much its sequel), but I was dead happy to finally come across a Teen novel that wasn't either a Fantasy or about a doomed character (i.e., Jane Grey). But before I get started with the review, here's the blurb from the dustjacket:

Lucy Sexton is stunned when a disheveled woman appears at the door one day…a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to Lucy's own beautiful mother. It turns out the two women are identical twins, separated at birth, and raised in dramatically different circumstances. Lucy's mother quickly resolves to give her less fortunate sister the kind of life she has never known. And the transformation in Aunt Helen is indeed remarkable. But when Helen begins to imitate her sister in every way, even Lucy isn't sure at times which twin is which. Can Helen really be trusted, or does her sweet face mask a chilling agenda?

Filled with shocking twists and turns, THE TWIN'S DAUGHTER is an engrossing gothic novel of betrayal, jealousy, and treacherous secrets that will keep you guessing to the very end.

I don't know if I've ever expiated on my love of Gothic novels. I, well, love them. Especially historical ones. It all started when I read Mary Stewart's Madame, Will You Talk? I was hooked. Unfortunately, Gothic authors aren't all as awesome as Mary Stewart. Then again, she's a hard act to follow. So I was excited to see a Gothic--especially in the Teen section--that was as new as The Twin's Daughter.

The only problem with Gothic novels is that there is, inevitably, a twist to the plot. You know it and the author knows it. He or she works hard not to give it away but--consciously or not--you've got your eye out the whole time you're reading a book. You just know the author's going to pull the rug out from under you. Now that I've said that, here's your spoiler warning: I'm going to write about the ending of The Twin's Daughter. I've thought about it and decided that it would be impossible for me to write a review without mentioning it. I'll try to be as unspecific as possible--but be warned that I might give something away. If you are afraid (and you might well be), stop reading...nowThe Twin's Daughter is, first of all, a good Historical. I liked the detail that Baratz-Logsted included, though I have to admit I wasn't certain what the time period was until I looked up Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience on Wikipedia. (The year is 1881, for those interested). The narrator, Lucy, fits well into this time period. She is both old-fashioned and yet has modern ideas about the role of women. I can see her, ten years after the end of the novel, fighting for women's suffrage. But I'm getting ahead of myself.When we first meet Lucy, she's 13. The novel opens on the pivotal event in the novel--the arrival of her's mother's twin, Lucy's Aunt Helen.

Aunt Helen, though she looks a great deal like Lucy's mother (Aliese), has been raised separately and very differently from her sister. She has come to their house from a workhouse. She's undernourished, uneducated, unrefined and, frankly, unladylike. Lucy, her mother and her father take Aunt Helen into their home and a transformation is wreaked. It doesn't take long for all the superficial differences between Lucy's mother and her Aunt Helen to be completely erased.

Helen and Aliese's interchangeability is the crux of this novel. Eventually, even Lucy is unable to tell the two apart. This is the meat of the novel, and the root of the mystery. Who is Mother? Who is Aunt Helen? The answer to this question is ultimately a great deal more tragic than anyone could ever imagine.

The lesser aspect of this novel is Lucy's coming of age, and the romance she has with a neighbor boy. Time passes swiftly in this novel. It's necessary for Lucy to age for the sake of her romance--but often years were passed with few words. I didn't like this. I think it took away some of the urgency that drives a Gothic. Also, years pass--presumably four or five--and we learn that Lucy makes the transition from child to woman. But the novel isn't really about Lucy and Lucy's own story suffers from that. In fact, I think Baratz-Logsted tried to right three different novels at once. And didn't quite pull it off. I felt cheated on Lucy's behalf. She doesn't have much of a teen-hood and her adulthood doesn't shape up to be much better.

I think my main frustration with the novel was that Lucy felt like a prop. I wasn't much interested in her story because I wasn't given much to be interested in. Life seems to be lived by Lucy's Mother, Father and Aunt. Her own life is given far less attention. This would be okay, except that this is a Teen novel. And I really wanted Lucy's life to be the contrast to the other, more sordid and tragic elements of the book. Instead, this book left me with a bad taste in my mouth. This could be entirely my own baggage, but I don't want to read books like this. I don't need a complete 100% happily ever after. But even the epilogue didn't make me feel better after the resolution. I scowled at the dust-jacket when I closed the book for the last time.

Therefore, I'm only giving The Twin's Daughter two points. I don't want to spend any more time with it than I already have.
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