Friday, 30 September 2011

Getting Away With It by Julie Cohen

After years of misbehaving in the quaint country village where she grew up with her identical twin sister Lee, Liza escaped to LA for a thrilling life as a stunt woman. But when her job brings her a little too close to death for comfort, Liza has to go back to the one place she couldn’t wait to get away from—home.

Only, when Liza arrives she discovers that her seemingly perfect sister has run off, leaving behind their difficult, ailing mother, a family ice-cream business that’s frozen in time and a dangerously attractive boyfriend. And what’s more, everyone thinks Liza is Lee. This is Liza’s one chance to see how it feels to be the good twin. She might be getting away with it, but there’s no getting away from facing up to who she really is…

This seems like such a frivolous novel to begin with - the very girly front cover, the identity swap of the twin sisters at the centre of the novel, the stuntwoman job of Liza - that I felt as though it would be a throwaway book; one of those you read and then instantly forget. Getting Away With It is far from this - in fact, I think it will prove to be pretty unforgettable.

Cohen does incredibly well because at the start of the novel I really didn't take to Liza at all - she was selfish, prickly, arrogant and generally horrendous to everyone she comes into contact with. Lee, on the other hand, is sweet and vulnerable and anxious to please - I found her to be a little bit like a doormat in the way she allowed people to treat her. Both sisters were clearly trapped in places that they didn't want to be, and the absolute joy of this novel is watching them develop and change and open their wings. Liza's journey is by far the most satisfying - her growth as a character really is brilliant - but it was also lovely seeing Lee start to take charge of her life.

Getting Away With It also contains some incredibly touching moments. Liza and Lee's mother has Alzheimer's, and her change in personality and her confusion and impatience with her disease caused me to choke up a few times. This ensures that the novel never feels frivolous.

Add to this the fact that Cohen has done her work concerning twins - she emphasises a number of times that, no matter the connection between twins, they are always two whole and unique people rather than two halves of the same whole. I absolutely love this, since I imagine that often twins must become very tired of being compared to each other and being treated in the same manner.

The only part of the novel that made me feel a little uncomfortable was the Will situation. Will is the aristocratic boyfriend of Lee at the start of the novel, and I felt a little bit odd that he and Liza strike sparks, especially considering he has already slept with Lee. Having said that, Cohen does write a very, very good sex scene!

Getting Away With It is begging to be made into a movie - it's written beautifully, and I can easily imagine a film about Liza and Lee. I've even entertained myself wondering who could possibly play the twins!

I absolutely loved Getting Away With It. It was a long luxurious novel with plentiful character development and truly lovely writing. In the future I will be reading any of Cohen's output. She is that rare creature - someone who can write a novel that becomes more than just a particular genre; who writes a book that should be tried by anyone. Don't be put off by the girly colour; this is not just a chick lit novel, it is a damn good yarn. Highly recommended.

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