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Irish Twins [Paperback]

Michele Van Ort Cozzens
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Aug. 15 2010
Anne Shields died at the age of 80. It happened while she was water-skiing. Her husband of fifty-four years, Michael, tried to revive her; however, it was no use. There was no return from a massive stroke to the brain stem. She passed in peace, and entered a new existence in a place called Ohr where her sister, Molly, greeted her with a cup of hot tea. Molly was her Irish Twin. "Irish Twin" is a slang term for two children born to the same mother within a twelve-month period. Its origin is uncertain, but it's a decidedly derogatory term, which mocks the Irish Catholic culture's rejection of birth control methods. This is the story of not one, but two sets of Irish Twins-Anne and Molly- as well as Anne's daughters, the Irish Twins Jennifer and Catherine. Also known as Jenny and Caylie, they are approaching middle age when their mother dies, and are left to face the world with many unanswered questions about a mother who left them far too quickly. Anne and Molly reunite in Ohr and Molly, the elder Irish Twin, guides Anne through her judgment. She witnesses her life and the lives of her surviving husband and five children through endless cups of tea, served to her by her sister. Anne is the heart and soul of this tale. Although she has passed away, she is very much present in the lives of her daughters. She keeps watch over Jenny and Caylie as well as her three additional children, and through her we learn a lot about being a sister, a wife, a parent, a friend. We learn not only about life . . . . . . but also about death.

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Format:Paperback
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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A CRAZY QUILT OF TIME AND PLACE AND EMOTION.... Aug. 26 2010
By Laurel-Rain Snow "Rain" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In this family saga set against a backdrop of other-world mysticism, we are plunged into a dreamlike state as we follow our characters. Irish twins are the focal point of the story and are defined as "two children born to the same mother within the same year."

The stage is set with the death of Anne Monaghan Shields while water-skiing--at eighty years of age. Descriptions of a "pop" sound and everything turning to black and white set the tone for what comes next. "Random thoughts and visions of people are trapped in a crazy quilt of time and place and emotion..." The author's words best describe our introduction to the other-world of Ohr, a transitional place where one views one's life and the lives of those left behind and comes to some kind of acceptance. It is later described as a place of "judgment," but not in the harsh sense of the word.

Anne first meets her sister Molly, her own Irish twin, who died many years before under mysterious circumstances. Molly looks like she did when she died and now hands over a cup of tea. She is the spirit guide, apparently, but others will also step in to assist as time goes on. Many cups of tea in several different cups accent this unique journey.

When she died, Anne's own Irish twin daughters, Jenny and Caylie, were 40 (and almost 40) and struggling with their own life issues. As her two youngest children, they seem more adrift; Anne feels a sense of having "abandoned" them--not only at the moment of her death, but earlier in their lives when she and their father Michael abruptly left their home to move to Mitten Lake, Michigan on the day of Caylie's high school graduation.

Moments like these fill the pages, as we move from the spirit world to the lives of family members, and then move back in time to the past in the lives of each family member.

It's like we have a birds-eye and a panoramic view of life events, with Anne leading us. When we are dropped into each family moment, past and present, we gradually come to learn the history of events, with all the long-buried secrets surfacing in little snippets.

We are treated to Anne's own "life passing before her eyes" moments, almost as if we're watching a movie. We come to know each character deeply and care about how they all deal with everything life presents.

Irish Twins is a fascinating and uplifting story of life, life after death, and the insights we can glean along the way.

I will never think of death in quite the same way again.

Five stars...definitely!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emily Liebert, author of Facebook Fairytales Aug. 12 2010
By Emily Liebert - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As a mother of Irish twins, I read this book with great anticipation and was instantly drawn in by Cozzens' down-to-earth brand of storytelling. She captures the most subtle nuances inherent in familial relationships, while presenting characters that are both authentic and textured. Curl up in bed with a warm cup of tea and immerse yourself in Cozzens' world.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tea Break in Ohr Oct. 28 2010
By Amanda Richards - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Between sips of fragrant tea, misty memories drift past Anne, the central character of this afterlife story. Struck down without the benefit of a warning while water-skiing, 80 year old Anne is reunited with her "Irish Twin" sister Molly in Ohr, a transitional place where a cup of tea and a warm welcome await the recently departed.

From this unique perspective, we see Anne's life unfold as she revisits meeting Michael, the man who will be her husband for 54 years, for better and worse, and with whom she raises her family of four girls and a boy.

She also gets the opportunity to uncover the dark secrets surrounding Molly's untimely death, and to watch over her own pair of Irish twins Jenny and Caylie, all from the vantage point of a never-ending supply of steaming hot tea and special teacups.

This well written novel flows seamlessly from past to present, to Ohr and back, and touches on every aspect of family, love and the celebration of life. The characters are completely believable and identifiable, and although the story requires that you dislike one character or another at various times, you'll realize that this is life, and people aren't perfect.

Having read every book published by this author, I can confidently attest that each one is unique and special, and I can't wait to see what she dreams up next.

Amanda Richards
October 28, 2010
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I had a lovely life...and I did my best" Oct. 3 2010
By Linda Bulger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It's not remarkable for a novel to start with the death of an 80-year-old woman. If she dies while water-skiing, as Anne Shields does in Irish Twins, the reader's attention is engaged. And if the story then turns to a transitional afterlife where Anne is guided to an assessment of her life and the tasks still undone, you know you're reading a truly original novel.

Anne's guide in the afterlife is her Irish Twin, Molly. Together they observe the events of Anne's life as she catered to the needs of her five children and her husband, Michael. The two youngest daughters of Anne and Michael are also Irish Twins--siblings born within twelve months--and their lives had been changed by the loss of their mother. So much for Anne to understand, so many secrets, so much still undone. Will she have another chance to give her daughters what they need from her?

Author Michele VanOrt Cozzens spins a mesmerizing story with unusual elements. Her characters Anne and Molly, assessing Anne's life together, see the past as well as the present through the steam rising from cups of tea; it's like a "perpetual dream" with images appearing and then fading through the steam. The tea serves as a "crystal ball" allowing them access to the world from their spiritual waiting room. The story that emerges in "Irish Twins" is likewise veiled and fragmented, finally coming together in an unexpected conclusion.

This story would have been good as a straightforward family tale; but in using the unusual afterlife thread and breaking the family story into misty fragments of past and present, Cozzens lifts it above the crowd and makes it quite unforgettable. Surrounding the reader with sadness and laughter, full of hope and regret, written in a wistful style so that you wish it wouldn't end so soon, it's a book you don't want to miss. Highly recommended.

Linda Bulger, 2010
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A heart-warming, enchanting book that should be on the big screen! Sept. 29 2010
By Betty L. Dravis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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
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