I’m a sucker for Nantucket which is the main setting of Elin Hilderbrand’s novels, but in The Identicals, the author added Martha’s Vineyard into the mix. This turned out to be a happy thing for me, because I got my fix with twice as many beaches, twice as many lighthouses, twice as many lobster rolls and twice as many ice creams. Happy days.
There are also twice as many heroines as usual since The Identicals features twins Harper and Tabitha, forty year olds who have been estranged for 14 years. Harper is the easy-going screw-up who lives on Martha’s Vineyard, a community where everyone knows everybody else’s business. Harper recently ruined her reputation by having an affair with the married doctor who had been treating her dying father.
Tabitha lives on Nantucket and is the elegant, stuffy twin. She is the mother of an out of control teenager, Ainsley, who has been brought up in the same disinterested way that her mother brought Tabitha up. (Harper and Tabitha’s parents divorced when they were teenagers, and in the style of The Parent Trap, each parent took a twin. Separating siblings didn’t work well for the twins in The Parent Trap or The Identicals).
When their father dies, Tabitha and Harper swap places, with Harper going to Nantucket to look after Ainsley and to work in her mother’s exclusive fashion boutique which is on the brink of bankruptcy, while Tabitha moves to Martha’s Vineyard to renovate their father’s house to sell.
These characters are flawed but I liked them regardless, I enjoyed the story and as always, loved the location. The Identicals is an easy summer read and I can imagine myself lying on a beach towel, feeling the warmth of the hot sun on my back as I read, in between dozing, paddling, collecting shells, swimming and riding the waves on the boogie board… pure bliss!
I’m always surprised by how badly Elin Hilderbrand’s characters mess up their lives, and yet, I still like them. They drink to excess, use drugs and mess around with other people’s husbands, all things that I would avoid and judge in real life, but I love these books, which are pure escapism.
As an Australian I’m not all that good with American geography, so before reading this book I had no idea that Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard are neighbouring islands. This has opened up a whole new world of travel daydreams for me, as I intend to see the Gingerbread Cottages on Martha’s Vineyard for myself (one day…)
The sections on the rivalry between the Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard was clever, with the islands comparing themselves using a combination of sweetly pointed remarks, leaving the reading feeling as if the island are siblings much like Harper and Tabitha, who have their differences but love each other anyway.
As always, I loved my annual fix of Elin Hilderbrand’s Nantucket, and am delighted to have gotten to know Martha’s Vineyard in The Identicals.