Today I am so pleased to be on the blog tour for Shelan Rodger’s new novel, Twin Truths! I loved Yellow Room [read my review here] so jumped at the chance to read and review this very intriguing-sounding novel… read on to find out what I thought and read a great guest post by Shelan on “the elasticity of time in life and fiction”!
Title: Twin Truths
Author: Shelan Rodger
Publisher: The Dome Press
Jenny and Pippa are twins.
Like many twins they often know what the other is thinking. They complete each other. When one of them disappears, the woman who is left behind must rebuild her life alone as she tries to find out what happened to her soul mate.
Her journey of discovery takes her to Argentina, Brazil, Greece and the UK. The truths she discovers about herself, her sister, their mother and their absent father are profound and deeply shocking…
Twin Truths is a beautifully-written, thoughtful novel about the power of love (in many forms), the importance attached to ‘truth’ and/or ‘secrets’, and the complex nature of identity… if this sounds a little vague, it’s because I am so wary of giving too much away and ruining any of this powerful story for future readers; I feel like it’s best to go into this novel without too many preconceptions!
Jenny, who we meet first, is a troubled character who I struggled to warm to initially; however as the novel continued we see there is so much more to her and her childhood with twin sister Pippa, which has affected both of their lives thereafter… there are some surprises along the way and various points where I wondered how much truth is being presented to me as the reader, something I always enjoy in a book!
There are some upsetting themes in this story and parts which to me felt quite claustrophobic, mirroring the characters’ own feelings and leaving me thinking about it after I’d finished reading. There are also some interesting parts that reveal more about life in Argentina too, and I also really enjoyed the section at the end where Shelan discusses her inspiration for the book.
Overall I really enjoyed Twin Truths and raced through it, finding myself enveloped in the setting, feelings and descriptions which make this book such an absorbing read.
Many thanks to Dome Press for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review, and for inviting me onto the blog tour!
[Guest Post: The elasticity of time in life and fiction]
‘Imagine if flash-forwards to the future existed, how many events would seem unbelievable, laughable even, or just plain intolerable. I imagine life as a pile of bones without the flesh of time to join the different bones together and fatten the relationship between them…’
This is one of the sisters speaking in Twin Truths, as she rakes back over her past. Yet, as I get older, I grow more and more convinced that time is not linear, as if the cells of our flesh intuit at some level what is going to happen. We may only become aware of this in hindsight, may only see the signs looking back, but they are there, in our bodies, working slowly on preparing us for our futures.
Can you relate to this? Can you look back now and realize that somehow, somewhere, at some level, you ‘already knew’? When you look back and turn your life into a story, can you remember something that was said – by you or someone else – which now seems prophetic, which makes sense now with what has happened since? Is there a moment you felt something strange, a twinge of something you didn’t understand at the time, but which has come back quietly to haunt you since?
The elasticity of time, the way it stretches and slows and does somersaults, the way past and present and future feed each other is, I believe, one of the driving forces of fiction, one of the reasons we love reading novels. Some novels delve explicitly in time travel of course, but all fiction, in one way or another, swims implicitly in the notion of time. The use of flashbacks, the juxtaposition of present and past, the way that narrative speeds up and jumps from one point in time to another, or slows down and digs into the subconscious that fattens a clock moment – all these are mechanisms that play with the subjectivity of time. And this reflects the reality of the way that we experience time in our own lives, for all our apparent captivity in 24 hour days.
Memory weaves in and out of our consciousness, in and out of our dreams; trauma or loss can inhabit not just our minds but our bodies – we continue to react in the present to the past we carry inside us. And we react continually to a future that does not exist, with fear or worry, excitement, hope, faith, or all manner of emotional nuance on the rainbow of projections we allow to play in our minds. In the story of our own lives, we are both reader and writer at the same time, perceiving and interpreting as reader, but with the capacity to intervene and shape and influence as writer – and this creates a certain tension and responsibility! When we read a novel, we can lose ourselves in a world that has already been created for us and there is a comfort in that, something therapeutic and relaxing about experiencing the elasticity of time and the way that this plays out in the life of an imaginary character.
The first page of Twin Truths is a flashback to a moment of panic underwater which only makes full sense on the final page of the book. I hope you enjoy the slippery elasticity of the journey in between.
– Shelan Rodger
[About the Author]
Shelan’s life is a patchwork of different cultures and landscapes; she was born in northern Nigeria, growing up among the Tiwi – an aboriginal community on an island north of Darwin, and moved to England at the age of eleven. She then travelled to Buenos Aires after graduating in Modern Languages from Oxford, and stayed for nine years. Then another chapter in England, followed by six years in Kenya on flower farms by Lake Naivasha and the lower slopes of Mount Kenya.
Now, Shelan lives in Andalucia, Spain. She has learnt in and outside many classrooms around the world, teaching in some of them too. Her professional career has revolved around international education, learning and development, with an emphasis during her time in Kenya on anti-discrimination.
Shelan’s first book, Twin Truths, was published by Cutting Edge Press in 2014, followed by Yellow Room, also in 2015.
As of 2017, The Dome Press acquired the rights to these two titles and Yellow Room was released in October 2017, with Twin Truths following in March 2018.