Guest Blog by Pamela Sherwood, author of Waltz with a Stranger
Hello to everyone on Love Romance Passion–thank you for having me visit today!
My hosts have asked me to talk about twins in romance, and to address the question of whether it’s looks or character that win the heart. My instinctive response is to assert that character always carries the day–but looks can certainly attract attention. Not just good looks, either, but any appearance that’s out of the ordinary. And when two people resemble each other as closely as Aurelia and Amy Newbold, the twin heroines of Waltz with a Stranger, looks can be a source of great confusion as well.
My first exposure to twins in fiction was a junior novelization of The Parent Trap that I found in my fourth-grade class library. On mentioning it to my mother, a teacher and former children’s librarian, I was promptly directed to the book that inspired the film, Erich Kästner’s Lisa and Lottie, which I found richer and much more satisfying. (Yes, that’s a recommendation.)
As I read on through the years, I encountered still more pairs of twins. The double duos of Antipholus and Dromio, who cause such pandemonium in Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors. Alexandre Dumas’s Corsican brothers, formerly conjoined twins who literally feel each other’s pain. Harry Potter’s Fred and George Weasley, and Padma and Parvati Patil. And in the romance genre, Georgette Heyer’s Evelyn and Christopher Fancot in False Colours. Mary Jo Putney’s Kit and Kira Travers in Dancing on the Wind, and later Kyle and Dominic Renborne in The Wild Child.
I continue to find identical twins fascinating: two siblings–mirror images–who could be best friends or bitter foes, staunch allies or fierce rivals. And sometimes all of the above! But twins are also individuals, who can differ in tastes and temperament. The tendency in fiction is to polarize them–the good twin and the bad twin, the shy twin and the bold twin. But the dichotomy between twins is seldom that simple. The shy twin may have unexpected reserves of courage and strength, while the bold twin may be more vulnerable and insecure than anyone suspects.
A triangle involving twins lies at the heart of Waltz with a Stranger–which is fitting because a poem about such a triangle was one of its main influences. Tennyson’s “The Sisters” tells the story of a man who inadvertently courts identical twins, with tragic results. Significantly, there is no villain in that triangle: only three well-intentioned young people muddling through a complicated situation and, sadly, getting it wrong. My goal was to take a similar situation, create a triangle in which all the parties were fully realized sympathetic characters, and make it come out right–for everyone.
Aurelia, the primary heroine, may be the most sympathetic of the trio: the quieter, more thoughtful sister who strives to reclaim the person she was before a riding accident left her scarred in body and soul. Her sense of self is on shaky ground, partly because she is no longer the mirror image of her twin, a circumstance that has defined her until now. Even after she regains some of her confidence, she must contend with more heartache on discovering that the man of her dreams–who won her heart when they shared a secret waltz in the conservatory–is now engaged to her twin.
Amy, Aurelia’s twin, may be the “other woman,” but she’s no villainess. More outgoing and confident than Aurelia, she is also the practical one, who leads with her head rather than her heart. Her poise and assurance, however, hide a vulnerable core. Too often stung by social snubs in the past, Amy is determined to make a brilliant marriage, not just for her own benefit, but for her family’s–especially Aurelia. While not in love with James, Amy likes and respects him, and intends to be a loyal wife and a perfect countess once they’re married.
Meanwhile, James–the hero–is caught between love and honor, and his genuine feelings for both women. Amy’s vivacity charms him, while Aurelia rouses his tender, protective side. But after he inherits an earldom and all its attendant responsibilities, it is assertive, ambitious Amy who seems the clear choice for his countess, rather than her sister, “fragile as a glass butterfly.” James is unprepared for the revitalized Aurelia who returns to London ready to take on the world–and equally unprepared for the desire she stirs in him. Only by gaining a deeper understanding of both women’s characters–and of his own heart–can he resolve the conflict that threatens to destroy all their happiness.
So, do you have any favorite romances in which twins play a major role? Or that contained well-constructed triangles that made you sympathize with all three parties?
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