I picked this book out at random. I was looking for an author that I’ve never read before, and The Santiago Sisters by Victoria Fox caught my attention: It is a relatively new copy (judging by the serial number besides the pristine condition), the title appeals to me, the length is okay (508 pages) and the font size is ‘normal’.
Not having a sister of my own, I’m always curious about the dynamics and relationship between sisters; what’s more, this story is about a pair of twins born two minutes apart. The tagline on the cover (“Bound by blood, separated by scandal”) sounds intriguing. I’ve read that twins share a special bond: from birth to death, they are two halves of the same whole. Can they survive if they’re separated?
I was captivated right from the Prologue, which is so cleverly written that I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to reach the pivotal moment. The book is divided into four parts: 1994-2000, 2000-2005, 2006-2010, 2011-2014, with the final chapter in each section acting as a link to the Prologue. The Epilogue is set in Jan 2015. These take us from the lives of the twins from when they were ten years old in Argentina to London to Paris to California to New York to Barbados to Stockholm and Barcelona.
Argentinan twins Calida and Terisita Santiago are separated at 15; Tessa is left behind on the (rather impoverished) family farm when Teresita is adopted by world-famous actress Simone Geddes. Simone would groom Teresita to be a superstar. Calida has nothing but, starting with a camera given to her by her late father, works her way to become a top fashion photographer.
There are secrets, miunderstandings, miscommunications, lies, deceit and repercussions. Add feelings of hurt, bitterness, revenge and hatred. Throw in friendship, love and happiness. The story also gives a glimpse into the ugliness and disgust behind the glitter of the movie industry and the brutal and yet glamorous world of fashion photography. All the characters (and there are quite a few – good, bad and the in-between) are brilliantly absorbing, and the pace of the story is exciting. There is tension and surprises. And a big and explosive twist at the end.
This is one scintillating and satisfying read; I shall borrow more of Victoria Fox’s books.