The problem with this book is that I liked the characters so much that I was truly sorry to turn the last page. I want to spend more time with them, I want to see what happens in the rest of their lives.
The title refers to identical twins, Tabitha and Harper Frost. Growing up, they were as close as you’d expect identical twins to be, but then their parents divorced. Eleanor, the tyrannical, blue-blooded mother, decreed that each parent would take custody of one child, splitting the fourteen-year-old girls apart. They both want to go with their easy going father, but a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors makes the determination and shapes the rest of their lives.
Harper goes off to live with her father in his ramshackle house on Martha’s Vinyard, while Tabitha lives in the family compound 11 miles away on Nantucket. Harper makes one bad decision after another and is often the talk of the town. But her latest peccadillo – an affair with her father’s married doctor, really pushed the Vinyard folk over the edge.
Tabitha, who also never marries, nonetheless has children with her partner. But the wedge between the twins becomes insurmountable after Tabitha gives birth to a second child, premature son, who dies a few months later. Tabitha blames Harper, but her grief is neverending, chasing away her daughter’s father, who eventually marries and has his own family.
Eleanor, the family matriarch, is a fashion designer, somewhat reminiscent of Gloria Vanderbilt. Tabitha lives with her surly, out of control teenage daughter in the guest house on the property, and works for her mother, managing the store on Nantucket. And then her father dies.
Harper plans the celebration party her father wanted, and her mother, sister and niece all attend, but the rift is still strong. He has left the house to both girls, leaving them with a dilemma; sell it as a teardown, or invest beaucoup bucks and renovate, selling for much, much more.
Meanwhile, Eleanor gets a bit tipsy at the funeral celebration and ends up falling down the stairs when she gets home, breaking her hip. Tabitha leaves her daughter alone, goes with her mother to Boston, where they will have to stay while Eleanor recuperates from surgery.
Harper goes to Tabitha’s house to take care of her niece and run the store. Eventually Tabitha goes to their father’s house to try her hand at renovating, so in effect, the women trade lives for a summer. And what a difference a summer can make.
Once again Hilderbrand has created a world I long to visit. This is another terrific read from one of my favorite authors.
6/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
THE IDENTICALS by Elin Hilderbrand. Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (June 13, 2017). ISBN 978-0316375191. 432p.