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The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle

This is yet another book that has received a great deal of hype (debut novel that blew the publisher’s mind re the quality of the writing, Hollywood knocking, an author with a terrific back story herself etc), only this time, I didn’t hesitate, but went along for the ride and what a ride it was. 

The Girl in the Mirror is the story of mirror twins, Summer Rose and Iris who, along with the rest of their extended family (their father was married three times and they have a number of step-siblings and a brother) find themselves pawns in their dead father’s will. You see, their filthy rich and manipulative father (he’s a man who tells his children “nice is dumb” – what a charmer) has written some strict rules for inheriting his wealth: forget dividing his incredible legacy between his kids. Oh no – not this bloke. Only one will get the lot: the first of his children to be legally married and then give birth to a living child will inherit his enormous wealth – $100 million no less (did I say this was very soap opera?). So, the race is on. With six daughters and a son – and the twins with a chronological advantage (they’re older) – who will be the first? But with Summer refusing to bow to her father’s unethical instructions, choosing love over money, and the other children far too young to even be able to conceive, Iris appears to have it in the bag – or would if her own, hastily conceived relationship hadn’t self-destructed. 

Just when all seems lost (including the money), perfect Summer, the twin Iris wishes she was, throws her “Twinnie” a life-line. 

Believe it or not, what I’ve revealed above is not a spoiler, but just the beginning of the story, a story that twists and turns and takes place in Australia, on the ocean and in the Seychelles. You really have to suspend your disbelief and invest (even partially) in this melodrama of entitlement. But gosh it’s a bit of ambivalent fun if you do – a sort of guilty-reading pleasure. The writing is good and certainly, the crazy plot keeps you turning the pages and ignoring the holes. I saw every twist coming a mile away, but so enjoyed seeing how it played out and if I was correct. 

The lead character is incredibly flawed and it’s easy to dislike her, but somehow, you end up accepting her motives, even if her morals are questionable. But when everyone’s are, the bar is set very low. Mind you, the role models she’s been given are also pretty fraught. White privilege drips from the pages (even the Seychellois characters are well-off and live in a manner of which many of us can only dream) and it’s very Dynasty/Dallas-esque. In some ways, this makes the story unpalatable – but I think (hope?) that might be the point. There are threads left dangling, but I never mind that because life rarely squares things up and it allows the reader the opportunity to fill in the gaps.

If you enjoy mystery/thrillers with large lashings of soap opera (and be prepared, everyone is beautiful and rich), and are looking for a quick, wonderfully escapist read, then this is for you. 

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