An achingly poignant tale of identical twin boys adopted separately, who are eventually, heart-wrenchingly reunited.
Jim and Maureen Harrison ache to have a child. Glyn and Sioned Rees want a brother or sister for their daughter Lowri. But for both couples, further pregnancy is impossible. So what to do?
The answers to both their dreams are sucking their thumbs in the Strawberry Field children’s home in Liverpool: foundlings, twin baby boys. Glyn and Sioned adopt one, whom they bring up in Wales. Jim and Maureen adopt the other, rearing him in north Yorkshire.
And so the boys are brought up in very different social and family environments, developing markedly different personalities and aspirations. But are they entirely different? After all, they are monozygotic: identical. Does their genetic commonality confer similar character traits deep down? John Needham’s third novel explores nature/nurture theory, weaving it into an absorbing, at times exquisitely moving tale of brothers.
Readers of his previous book, Forebears, will be re-acquainted with warm-hearted, buff, call-a-spade-a-bloody-shovel Yorkshire lass Helen, now taking a larger role, telling her story from an earlier time.
This gentle, compelling, sometimes poignant novel tells the boys’ stories in parallel as they grow to manhood, converging to a dramatic, heart-wrenching reunion that will wring your emotions dry.
This book is a beautifully observed study of the human condition: thematically, it applies to us all in that it examines how the choices we make, the choices that others make for us and are own actions and inactions have ramifications that can come back to haunt (or even bless) us many years down the road.
This emotional tale of twins separated and reunited weaves a compelling and well-structured tale over the years, the writing is of a high standard and there’s obviously a degree of research gone on into historical detail and human development which seems accurate and is definitely laudable.
What stands out most about this book for me, though, is its sheer humanity: the author is adept at portraying the inner emotional life of his characters and portrays them with a lightness of touch, realism, empathy and compassion. This book has a great emotional pitch and I have to say that, even though I’m a bloke, I did on occasion feel a tear or two welling up!
This is a gentle, intelligent and compelling book about people, people that the reader can identify with sympathise with, that is both heart-warming and emotional. Highly recommended
FIVE OUT FIVE: A MUST BUY!