cover image A Spanish Lover

A Spanish Lover

Joanna Trollope. Random House (NY), $23 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-679-42586-1

Stepping away from her usual provinces and into more cosmopolitan territory, Trollope (The Choir; The Rector's Wife) delivers an insightful and thoroughly engrossing story of 39-year-old twin sisters whose lives and fortunes change dramatically over the course of a year. Lizzy has four kids, a rambling house in a charming English town, a wonderful husband and a flourishing gallery/antique shop business. Frances, her twin, tends to her small travel firm, is single and has always been Lizzie's quiet supporter and soul mate. On a business trip through southern Spain, the reticent Frances falls for an urbane, married Spaniard and is suddenly too involved in her own blossoming affairs (business and love) to play cheerleader for her sister. While Frances's life is lifting off, Lizzie and her husband run into devastating financial problems. Lizzie loses her beloved home, takes a dull office job to help make ends meet and is consumed with jealousy at her sister's new life. As Frances comes into her own, her life serves as a touchstone for the other characters, who begin to measure their gumption and personal happiness against hers. Caught up in all of this are the twins' parents, Barbara and William, as well as a woman who, through her longstanding affair with William, has become a kind of aunt and confessor to the twins. With sparkling dialogue, Trollope brings all of her characters, adults and children, to full life while managing to bestow unforgettable glimpses of Spain in all its melancholy and magnificence. She makes her readers want to drop everything in order to keep on reading. BOMC selection; paperback rights to Berkley; author tour. (Feb.) FYI: A Spanish Lover was a #1 bestseller in England in both hardcover and paperback.