Mirror Image by Danielle Steel

reversed, identical female silhouettes against gold oval look like a chalice
See the two women?

By literary law, every prolific novelist is required to write about two look-a-like individuals who change places.

Danielle Steel fulfills her obligation with Mirror Image, a preposterous story about the Henderson twins, who come of age just as World War I erupts in Europe.

Olivia, the elder sister by 11 minutes, and Victoria are distinguishable only by a tiny mole that one sister has on her right hand, the other on the left. The sisters are very close, but very different.

Olivia is the dutiful, domestic daughter to their father, who turned elderly when his wife died birthing the twins.

Committed to women’s suffrage, smoking cigarettes, and driving motor cars, Victoria is sure of herself, naïve, and totally shocked when the man by whom she’s pregnant won’t divorce his wife for her.

To prevent a scandal, Mr. Henderson arranges a marriage for Victoria with his lawyer, a widower with a young son.

Victoria hates children, hates her boring husband, and wishes her father had pushed Olivia off on Charles Dawson instead of her.

You know what happens. The only open question for Steel to settle is which of the sisters gets killed off in order for the story to end happily.

Mirror Image by Danielle Steel
Delacorte ©1998. 426 p.
1998 bestseller #5; my grade: C+

©2020 Linda G. Aragoni

The Dark Half (novel)

undistinguishable dark blurs are background for author and title name
Nothing’s clear here

The Dark Half is a Stephen King novel with all the creepy ambiance and nightmarish monsters for which King is justly famous.

And, like most King novels, at its core is a fairly common occurrence: Writing under an assumed name.

When novelist Thad Beaumont slammed into writer’s block, he occupied his time writing violent novels under the pen name George Stark. Stark’s name was on four very successful novels.

A dozen years later, in a mock ceremony captured in People magazine, Thad and his wife buried Stark beneath a tombstone inscribed “Not a Very Nice Guy.”

Stark’s readers are furious.

So is Stark.

The never-existent Stark is determined to use Thad as an instrument for writing his stories, just as Thad used Stark.

When the Beaumonts’ odd-jobs man is found murdered, Thad’s fingerprints are found on the man’s truck.

Sheriff Alan Pangborn thinks it’s an open-and-shut case, but until he interviews Thad, who has witnesses to the fact he was at home miles away when the murder occurred.

The Dark Half blends the mundane with bizarre facts about twins, adds a touch of Alfred Hitchcock, and winds up with the all-too-real possibility that the Beaumont’s marriage won’t survive.

It also leaves the question: How do novelists create their characters?

The Dark Half by Stephen King
Viking. ©1989. 431 p.
1989 bestseller #2; my grade: B

©2019 Linda G. Aragoni