cover image Mirror Image

Mirror Image

Danielle Steel. Delacorte Press, $26.95 (432pp) ISBN 978-0-385-31509-8

The raven-haired twins in Steel's (The Klone and I) latest romance wend their way through the social dilemmas and crises of conscience that abound in the lives of two motherless heiresses. Flitting around Edith Wharton's New York and its fashionable countryside (the family home, Henderson Manor, is in Croton-on-Hudson), Olivia and Victoria Henderson come of age in high style and predictable prose. Their physical resemblance (even their father is unable to distinguish between them) exaggerates their temperamental differences. The rebel Victoria--smoker, drinker and suffragette--recklessly gives herself to a married womanizer, Tobias Whitticomb. Olivia dutifully keeps her father's houses and acts as the anxious guardian to her ""baby"" sister. She also befriends nine-year-old Geoff Dawson, whose mother has died on the Titanic. When Henderson pere decides to marry the disgraced Victoria to Geoff's father, Charles, Olivia's heart quietly breaks and the plot thickens. The convenience of the sisters' carbon-copy looks allows Victoria to run off to help the Allied cause in France and Olivia secretly to take her sister's place. Although Steel stretches credibility as the marriage heats up (Charles didn't notice that his wife was virginal again?), the reader is too busy being moved by the powerful events to quibble. Steel doesn't flinch from the realities of childbirth and war and reliably produces yet another suspenseful tearjerker. (Nov.)