Book Review – The Crooked Little Pieces by Sophia Lambton

books, reviews

Rating: 3 out of 5.

There was a point when I never thought I would get to this point. I’d been reading this book for so long that I thought it would never end. Not that I wasn’t interested but I just couldn’t get into it. It’s been such a horrible time at work that I needed something a bit lighter to get me through. This was more of an epic and I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind for it.

As a twin, I’m always fascinated by stories about twins. It’s interesting to see how writers portray life as a twin. So, I jumped at the chance to read the first volume of The Crooked Little Pieces series. Not only do I get to read a story about twin girls but it takes place during the period before the Second World War. We are introduced to Anneliese and Isabel, half-Dutch and half-German twin sisters. The pair move to London in 1926 after their father gets a job in a women’s college. The pair are very different and often have a difficult relationship. When tragedy strikes, the two girls start to drift even further apart.

First off, there is a lot to enjoy about this book. The two girls are both well-written and have plenty of depth. I know the whole “opposite twin siblings” is a bit of cliché these days but it works really well here. Anneliese is the scientist who dreams of being a psychiatrist and Isabel is the musical one. Both are brilliant in their own ways but also fairly naïve. They’re not always the easiest characters to love but they are human. I liked getting to know them and their relationship. It feels realistic.

I also think there is a lot of great detail here. With her background, Sophia Lambton obviously has musical knowledge and the way she describes music and the sensations Isabel feels when playing are incredible. There is also plenty of medical knowledge and historical context on show here. I especially enjoyed the scenes towards the end of the book that were set during the Blitz. It’s a very sensual and engaging book.

However, I have to admit that this wasn’t the book for me. It is selling itself as a television series in book form, which I kind of see. It’s an epic that is set to span decades. A family drama that takes us into the heart of this sisterly relationship. It’s meaty and dense, which will work for so many readers. Unfortunately, not for me. It was just a bit too slow to get going and it ended up treading very familiar ground. Then, when something interesting did happen, it was sidelined for something else. If this book was a TV show, it would be one of those mega 1.5-hour episodes when I’d have preferred something nearer 45 minutes.

The writing is lovely and I think Sophia Lambton did a great job but I just didn’t fully engage with all aspects of the book. It ended up feeling more of a slog than I’d expected. Of course, I’m just the wrong reader for this book. It will definitely suit someone who enjoys those huge classics. If you enjoy lengthy Russian literature, for example, then this could be your jam. If you really want to get to know a group of people over an extended period, then give this a go.

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