Harper and Tabitha are identical twin sisters. Approaching their 40th birthdays, their lives are train wrecks filled with unhappiness, too much drinking, out of control children, legal problems, and painful love affairs.
It was impossible to put this book down. I had to keep reading to see what kind of trouble they would get into next. The characters were incredibly interesting and quirky. This book is really good. I was completely mesmerized by the dysfunction in this family.
Harper and Tabitha were very close as children. They were born to a wealthy and pretentious fashion designer mother and an unruly, unconventional, contractor/ builder father. They seem to have had a happy childhood. Their parents had a very passionate union which ended in divorce during the girl’s teenage years. The two girls were split up in the divorce and had to choose one parent as a custodian. The girls were allowed to switch parents during holidays and vacations but did not get to spend time together anymore. This causes some pretty hard feelings between the twins.
Harper lives with her father on Martha’s Vineyard during college breaks. She and her father are very close. She is a wild child who cannot hold down a job. She makes a lot of stupid mistakes. She nearly goes to jail for drug trafficking and has an affair with a married man. Things just seems to go wrong for her. She has a good heart and she is a good person. Harper is a nurturer. She misses her mother and sister even though they both make her feel inferior and stupid.
Tabitha lives and works with her mother on Nantucket. She has an unruly daughter and is still mourning the loss of an infant son. Tabitha has never been married and has bad luck with men. Tabitha is stuck in a life that she hates. She can’t keep a man, she hates working for her mother, and she cannot control her daughter. She loathes her sister Harper. Tabitha hates Harper for choosing the “good parent” and blames her for the death of her infant son.
The death of their father frantically scrambles the lives of the three women. Eleanor, the mother, breaks her hip after a drunken funeral reception and must be hospitalized for six weeks. Harper comes home to Nantucket to help with the family fashion store and to care for Tabitha’s daughter. Tabitha initially stays with her mother until her aunt can take over. Then, their father’s home must be sold and possibly rehabbed so the proceeds can be split between the two women.
So, in a twist of fate, the two identical twins change places and blend their identities to take on each other’s obligations. It is messy, but it seems that each woman has been stuck in the wrong life. But, when they switch up their lives, they find love, success, and a whiff of happiness. A family reconciliation with each other seems possible.
I am not sure that I have ever read Elin Hilderbrand before. The Identicals is her nineteenth novel. She has a twin brother and lives in Nantucket. I did not get a good feel for the Nantucket/Martha’s Vineyard area but I enjoyed her characters and family dysfunctionality.