Author: Julie Cohen
Julie Cohen’s latest novel is irresistibly amusing as well as quite sentimentally touching. Getting Away With It is a tale of discovery, and self discovery. A tale of how everything really is a matter of perspective, and perspective is a tricky taskmaster because you’re looking through your own preconceptions which can be quite distorting.
On the surface Haven twins Lee and Liza seem to be your stereotypical yin and yang twins, total polar opposites. Lee is the good twin – responsible, reliable, caring, compassionate and impossible not to like, rely on and turn to. The twin who stayed on in the small town of her childhood to take over the family business and look after her aging mother.
Liza sees herself as the bad twin – rebellious, unreliable, unlovable and unable to get anything right. At the first opportunity Liza hotfooted it out of Stoneguard to chase down a life of adventure and of excitement as a stunt woman, until an accident at work jeopardises all she’s worked for.
The first few chapters demonstrate the ways that Lee and Liza are worlds apart, and when they get together for dinner it is apparent that these two sisters don’t share the almost psychic bond and unshakable closeness you so often expect with twins. There is a rift of unspoken thoughts and feelings running rampant between these two who are forever biting their tongues to try and keep the peace.
Liza heads back to Stoneguard, at Lee’s invitation, for a disco organised by Lee to aid the charity researching their mothers illness. Liza arrives, a little later than expected, only to find that the perfect twin Lee has disappeared without letting anyone know where she’s off to. Running into the disco dressed in Lee’s clothes Liza is mistaken for her twin and after trying unsuccessfully to correct the error it seems she is destined to play the perfect twin for a while.
The more time Liza spends being Lee the more insight she has; into Lee’s life, her mothers illness and into herself. The change in perspective allows her to live free of the prejudices and cloud of judgment she has been living under for as long as she can remember.
Liza’s return to Stoneguard and the family business is not even close to what she thought it would be and though she thinks she’s getting away with it it doesn’t take long to realise that what she was running from was a part of herself that she could never run from for ever.
Lee’s last minute break in the middle of preparations for the big disco is also a cry for self discovery, the first step in a journey to free herself from demons of the past and the stereotypical good twin image she has landed in.
There are a couple of references early on to Sweet Valley High which is a series I grew up with about all American blond beautiful twins that also fit the yin and yang stereotype but were always very close. In the early stages Lee and Liza do seem to draw quite a few parallels with the Sweet Valley High twins whose surname escapes me at the moment.
This is a beautiful story that touched me quite deeply in its message that if you can get untethered from your baggage you really are capable of achieving anything. When you stop being who you think everyone sees when they look at you it is possible to reinvent yourself and be who you always could have been.
Sometimes the deepest self examination comes through someone else’s eyes! And sometimes it takes looking out of someone else’s eyes to see things clearly!