Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Book Sketch: The Invention of Sophie Carter by Samantha Hastings

By: Samantha Hastings
Published By: Swoon Reads
Release Date: July 14, 2020
Series: None
Pages: 320
Genre: Historical Fiction
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Netgalley
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: Identical twin sisters take turns swapping places over the course of a summer in order to pursue their secret ambitions in Samantha Hastings' Victorian YA romance.

1851. Bounced from one begrudging relative to another their whole lives, orphaned identical twins Sophie and Mariah Carter have always relied on each other for love and support, even though the sisters couldn't be more different.

Brash Sophie wants to be an inventor, and demure Mariah wants to be an artist. Both long to visit London for the summer—Sophie to see the Queen’s Great Exhibition and Mariah to study the world’s finest collection of paintings. But when their cantankerous aunt answers their letter pleading for a place to stay, she insists she only has time and room to spare for one of them.

So, Mariah and Sophie hatch a clever scheme: They will travel to London together and take turns playing the part of "Sophie".

At first the plan runs like clockwork. But as the girls avoid getting caught by increasingly narrow margins and two handsome gentlemen—both of whom think they’re falling in love with the real Sophie Carter—enter the equation, the sisters find they don’t have the situation quite as under control as they thought.

With all sorts of delightful Parent Trap-style identical twin hijinks, The Invention of Sophie Carter is the perfect light-and-sweet palate cleanser.

First Thought After Finishing: What a fun trip back to historical London!

I’m a fan of historical fiction and foreign settings, so I knew I had to read this book. Samantha Hastings is also a local author, which made me even more eager to dive in. This book was a fun summer read full of sisterhood bonds, adventure, and romance.

Sophie and Mariah Carter maybe next twins, but they couldn’t be more different. Sophie is outspoken, always wanting to know how things work and to take care of their little family. Mariah longs to find love and acceptance. To get away from a bad situation, Sophie writes her aunt in London and asks for help. Her aunt agrees to let her come for a season, but only Sophie. So the twins hatch a plan—they’ll both go and pretend to be one person. Mariah will look for a husband, and Sophie will find an apprenticeship to an inventor. But the best-laid plans are never quite reality. Both twins discover hidden secrets about themselves, and each other, and find adventures they never dreamed of. But as the season draws to a close, they realize they can’t stay “Sophie” forever. Will they lose everything they worked for, or will all their dreams come true?

As an only child, I love books about sibling bonds—especially twins—because it’s one more way to live vicariously. The bond between Sophie and Mariah was felt throughout the whole book, even as they started to find their own paths as individuals. I can only imagine how difficult it is to find an individual identity when one has always been part of a set, and this book handled it very well. I also enjoyed the journey to London as well as the past. The excitement of seeing a new city and being on the brink of so many advancements was also quite fun. Both twins grow into their own strength—one quiet, one more exuberant—and it was quite an emotional journey.

The two budding romances were definitely the stars of this book. Reading Victorian classics has given me a soft spot for rich British gentlemen who are unapproachable or unavailable, and these stories helped me relive those romances that I love. The references to other great novels as well as the appreciation for an intelligent, independent female helped endear both of the male leads to me. Both of the romances are also wrapped up in family obligations, secrets, and class politics, which kept the tension high throughout the story. Although there were some family members that I wanted to reach through the pages and shake, there were other family friends whose witty repartee or unwavering kindness struck just the right balance to all the hardships the twins faced.

After everything Sophie and Mariah went through in their childhood, it was so easy to root for both of them finding their happily ever after and have all of their wishes come true. This book certainly runs the reader through a range of emotions, which made the story all the more impactful. Samantha Hastings has woven a story that will transport and delight readers, and I look forward to seeing what her next novel will be!

Most Memorable Aspect: The sisterly bond between the twins.


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