As some of you know, my first novel, Beside Myself, was published worldwide in English by Bloomsbury last week. It’s a psychological drama about twins who swap places in a childhood game and get trapped in the wrong lives (you can read about how I came to write it here).
The publishing industry being what it is these days, the book already exists in several different forms: handsome hardback editions with equally striking covers designed for the US and UK markets, a trade paperback for people passing through airport bookshops, an ebook, and an audiobook narrated by British actress Lisa Coleman.
I listened to an extract as soon as it came out and was thrilled with the way that Coleman has brought the story to life. Having narrated the audiobook of The World Between Two Covers myself, I know just how difficult the process can be.
I’d love for you to hear it too and it turns out we’re in luck because Audible has given me some codes that can be used to download the audiobook for free. I’ve got two to give away here.
The response to the children’s literature giveaway I ran last month was so good that I’ve decided to repeat it, but this time for books about twins. If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning one of these codes, simply leave a comment below telling me in around four sentences about your favourite book that features twins.
I’m particularly interested in books originally written in languages other than English. A good example would be Gerbrand Bakker’s The Twin, which was my Dutch choice during my Year of Reading the World.
But if you have a burning recommendation for a book that was written in English, feel free to share it.
The competition will run until midday (UK time) on Friday February 12. After that, I will read through the entries and pick two winners.
And to help get those ideas flowing, here’s a piece I wrote for the Guardian newspaper about why twins are useful in storytelling.
Picture by ethermoon on Flickr
Competition now closed. Check back for results soon.
Great question! I loved and still loved “Das doppelte Lottchen” (or “Lottie and Lisa” in English) by Erich Kästner – a story about two twin girls who are separated as babies due to their parents divorce. They grow up not knowing of each other’s existence and only meet by chance during a summer camp. I have read and reread the book many times and still love the two girls, one rather cheeky and the other a little shy, the story which already featured a single working Mum back in the 1940s (!), and Kästner’s fun and original style. If you haven’t read it yet, you have something to look forward to! 🙂
i havent read about twins 😦
“The Icarus Girl” by Helen Oyeyemi. Oyeyemi is British and the book was published in English but there is also a strong presence of Nigerian mythology throughout the story as well. The novel is about a young girl named Jess who struggles with her identity as the daughter of an English father and Nigerian mother. On a trip to Nigeria, she meets a girl named TillyTilly who is both imaginary and somehow connected to Jess’s dead twin. TillyTilly follows Jess back to England and begins to have a dangerous influence on Jess’s relationships and life at home. The story is dramatic and haunting and sticks with you after the end.
Congratulations on the new book 🙂
Well, my favourite book about twins is “The Notebook” by Agota Kristof. It is weird and unexpected.
“The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy is also about twins but its verbosity killed me.
I agree with Barbara, Erich Kastner’s Das doppelte Lottchen is an excellent (and well-known and much adapted) book, an all-time favourite of mine, too! I remember how desperately I wanted a twin sister after reading it! 🙂 The part that had the greatest effect on me was that someone can fall ill as a result of desperation (being a child of medical doctor parents).
Another one of my favourites is La Petite Fadette by George Sand. I read that at a young age, too. The characters and the story are great, I loved reading it. I liked the psychology and the dynamics in it: the outcasts, group pressure, love, envy, the very special relationship between the twins.
Hi Ann! My name is Sydney and I am a freshman in high school. My teacher told my class just last week that we will be doing a research paper on the topic of our choosing from the TEDTalks presentations. I came across your presentation at TEDTalks about your year of reading the world. It really intrigued me and so I decided to use the topic for my research paper. My teacher also told us that we must have a primary source for our paper such as a survey or email. And I was wondering if you could maybe answer a few questions I have about your journey of reading the world so I could use your responses as a primary source. It would be greatly appreciated if you would help me on my paper but if you cannot, I completely understand. Thank you so much for your time in reading this! Read on!
PS – You presentation on TEDTalks was absolutely brilliant. It has made its way to one of my top favorite presentations, along with Emma Watson’s HeForShe speech. If you have not heard that speech, I would greatly recommend it. Here’s the link if you would like to check it out:
Hi Sydney. Thanks for your message and kind words (I took out your email address before posting the comment). Your project sounds great. As you guessed, I’m pretty busy at the moment, but if you want to email a few short questions to ann[a]annmorgan.me ([a]=@), I’ll do my best to answer them – although it might take me a little while to get back. All the best for your school work!
It may sound entirely too literal, but I promise that my favorite book about twins is “The Twins” by Tessa de Loo (De Tweeling). Despite World War II fatigue, of which I am equally guilty, the stories of two girls brought up in completely different worlds offered a new spin on Dutch guilt and schizophrenia about that time in history. More about the overall family bond than twin-ness, It still sticks with me after many years. Highly recommended, and a fairly fast read.
I sadly cannot think of any remarkable books about twins outside of mythology so I definitely need to read more on this subject.
The Garden of the Finzi Continis is a classic Italian novel set across the backdrop of WW2 in which the narrator tells us about his relationship with the Finzi Contini twins in his youth. The twins and their garden have a dream-like quality which is completely at odds with the events of the outside world. The books had a quietly simmering plot and the Finzi Continis are as fascinating to the reader as they were to the narrator.
Hi Ann! I could remember several books about twins I have read — “Harry Potter” series (Fred and George!), the abovementioned “The Notebook” by Hungarian author Agota Kristof (very dark), “The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy (very beautiful and very depressing, but you can learn a lot about Indian culture from it, too).
However, what I would like to recommend strongly — is “The Inseparable Twins” by Russian/Soviet author Anatoly Pristavkin. It’s a great book — beautiful, poignant, painful. It concerns this sad part of our history when Stalin deported (uprooted) the whole nations. The book is written from the point of view of twin brothers whose orphanage and its ever-hungry and miserable kids are trying to resettle in the emptied land after recent deportation of its people, although they soon understand that it is impossible to build their happiness on unhappiness of other people…
(Oh, and I forgot to say that although “The Inseparable Twins” is a fiction book, it is based on true events Anatoly Pristavkin experienced himself. He was such orphan and his orphanage in reality was moved to this emptied land, even though he did not have a twin brother (this part is fictional). So the book have a special value in this regard.)
I have fond memories of Lotte and Lisa as well! But I’d have to go for Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun – yes, it is written in English, but the setting is Nigeria! This was the work which first drew me in to Adichie’s wonderful prose and the setting of the Biafran War was totally new to me. Told partly through the voice of twin Olanna, it tells the story of her and her sister Kainene.
Speaking strictly as a fraternal twin myself, with a twin sister, _Children of Dune_ by Frank Herbert is still my all-time favorite novel with twins as the main characters: fraternal twins, a boy and a girl. It captures perfectly the sometimes symbiotic nature of the relationship and especially the language employed and empathic skills acquired in such a relationship. Fascinating read. Still. I know the contest is over, but couldn’t resist sharing.