The Innocents

Jill Althouse-Wood, Author . Algonquin $23.95 (325p) ISBN 978-1-56512-496-7

The author of biographies on Condé Nast and Marietta Tree, Seebohm here intriguingly fictionalizes the glitterati of WWI-era New York and France (with "Mrs. Condé Nast" making an appearance on the first page), but can't follow them all the way into psychosis. The mother of Dorothea and Iris Crosby, identical twins in New York Society, dies after giving birth to them and their father dies soon after in a riding accident. The two cling tightly to each other, overseen by their befuddled older brother, George. After the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the teenage twins do wrenching work identifying burn victims. After several (chaperoned) trips to France, the twins, in their mid-20s, return to France as Red Cross volunteers when the U.S. enters WWI. When Iris falls in love with Southern Jewish aviator Maurice Aronsohn, Dorothea feels threatened. The two repledge their mutual loyalties, but the unhealthiness of their attachment becomes readily apparent. Seebohm's wartime Paris is particularly vivid; her prose throughout is concise and rich, and her narrative is peppered with period dialogue and epistolary correspondence among the characters. What doesn't come through is the sisters' desperation or the claustrophobia of their unraveling. One comes away wishing these innocents were a little less so. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 11/27/2006
Release date: 08/01/2007
Ebook - 325 pages - 978-1-56512-844-6
Open Ebook - 285 pages - 978-1-940941-04-2
MP3 CD - 978-1-5113-4356-5
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