Irish Twins Unique plot! Heart-warming, believable characters! Enchanted writing! I love, love, love this book!
This is one of the best books I've read in ages. I liked everything about it; from the gripping opening to the journey through Anne Shields's life--and afterlife--to the shocking ending, I was enthralled. Of lesser importance, but an additional pleasure: the cover is also original and extremely eye-catching.
Irish Twins begins with a mother of five dying at the age of eighty while water skiing, of all things! Her husband Michael tries to save her, but she's destined to pass on to a Heavenly realm called Ohr where she is greeted by her Irish twin, her sister Molly, who had died years before.
Molly greets her with a cup of steaming tea which sets the mood for Anne narrating this story from her perspective while awaiting entrance into Heaven. Through visions, the whole story unfolds over many cups of tea; each cup is different, but relevant to her life and her children's lives. As various events in her past life and her children's past and present are presented in vivid detail, Anne comes to understand the truth about herself and her family.
Molly fills in the gaps to help Anne reach the truth, and eventually other deceased loved ones appear to aid her. Anne finally learns how Molly really died. Some family members had suspected she was murdered by her alcoholic husband but... Well, that would be a spoiler...
Through her spiritual being, Anne is still watching out for her children--and Michael to a lesser extent--so what she learns gives her some closure on a lot of matters. Her own set of Irish twins, Jenny and Caylie, are the babies of the family. They were born later in life and she did something to them that was hard to understand by the family. In fact, there were many things she left unanswered, which has always disturbed the children.
Just what did Anne do that was so out of character? What was so bad about her going along with Michael when he moved to his dream spot on the lake? How did that effect all her children, especially her Irish twins? What problems are her children encountering now that she's "gone" and how is Michael faring all alone at the Lake? But most important: is there anything Anne can do to help from where she is?
Author Michele Van Ort Cozzens is a brilliant writer who answers all those questions and more in an enchanting way that awed me because of its uniqueness. Cozzens definitely understands human nature and I related to all her characters. (It wasn't hard because Anne is of my generation, the children the ages of my children, and the religious beliefs are the same as mine...except for the surprise ending which deviates vastly from my beliefs.)
In addition to being well-written with likable, believable characters, Irish Twins has excellent pacing, good dialogue and is an easy, enjoyable read. My favorite aspects of the story are the masterful use of the "tea scenes" and the narrator's placement in a Heavenly realm...not quite Heaven, but getting close.
In the author's own words: "Anne is the heart and soul of this tale. She keeps watch over Jenny and Caylie as well as her three additional children, and through her we discover secrets and revelations of a sister, a WWII bride, a wife, a parent, a friend."
This is a compassionate, emotional journey about faith, hope, love and forgiveness. I highly recommend it and think it would be a blockbuster movie.
End Note: I hate to admit it, but until I read this book I had never heard of Irish twins, and was enlightened to learn that they are two children born to the same mother within twelve months. Although I consider the term quite sweet and rather endearing, in the past there were those who considered it offensive. And might I add that while this is, indeed, a work of fiction, the author's own mother died while waterskiing at the age of eighty, that Cozzens is an Irish twin herself and that she's a lot like Jenny in this book. For more about this author: [...]
Reviewed by Betty Dravis, September 29, 2010
Author of "Dream Reachers" (with Chase Von) and other books