Top critical review
THE PARENT TRAP for seniors?
Reviewed in the United States on August 20, 2017
In the mood for light summer reading, I chose THE IDENTICALS, despite the premise. I was not a fan of THE PARENT TRAP when I was a ten-year-old, but I thought the adult version of the twin switcheroo might be entertaining. After all, the book received glowing reviews from many readers, many of whom gave it five stars. After slogging through more than 400 pages, I thought, "It must be me; not you."
Tabitha and Harper, 39-year-old women, are identical twins. Due to circumstances surrounding their parents' divorce, Tabitha lives with her mother on Nantucket; Harper, with her father on Martha's Vineyard. Harper, like her dad, Billy Frost, is the fun twin. She partied her way through Tulane and does not stop when living on the Vineyard. Tabitha, on the other hand, is a buttoned-up version of her mother, a clothing designer and boutique owner. Her daughter, Ainsley, is an entitled teen who breaks all the rules. Tabitha's son, born prematurely, died shortly after birth, and this sad event has caused an inexplicable rift between the two branches of the family.
When Billy Frost dies, a reunion of sorts takes place at his funeral. For reasons not entirely logical, Harper and Tabitha agree to switch islands. Harper, together with Ainsley, move to Nantucket while Tabitha remains on the Vineyard. Why Harper, the party girl and rule breaker, is supposed to get Ainsley, the party girl and rule breaker, on the straight and narrow makes little sense to me but little in THE IDENTICALS does.
The story, filled with minutiae, meanders along for over 400 pages and reaches a predictable conclusion. Every meal, for example, is described in excruciating detail; only the recipes are missing. Because the main characters eat countless meals, I could have been reading a book on regional cooking. At some point, however, I became more interested in the food and drink than I did in the story.
The inability of the respective islanders to realize that the twins had switched places also defies credulity. Young children, before their characters are fully developed, can pull off a switch, but Harper and Tabitha are nearing middle age and had not seen one another for 14 years. Can anyone believe, for example, that prim and proper Tabitha morphs overnight into a woman who wears cut-offs?
I quickly tired of the cutsie names for everything from shops and restaurants to paint colors. Having spent time on both islands, I do not remember every business named with a not-so-clever play on words. At least, the famous Black Dog is left intact.
Having just finished a grueling psychological thriller, I looked forward to some light reading. THE IDENTICALS was too light for my taste. It's not you; it's me!