Fanny and Sue
Fanny and Sue are identical twins born just before the Great Depression in St. Louis. Although they look alike and often dress alike, their personalities are worlds apart. Fannie is boisterous, excitable, determined and sometimes pushy, while Sue is introspective, cautious, and more serious than her twin. They enjoy a deep connection and are capable of feeling each other’s pain and joy and anticipating each other’s needs.
The plot of this warm domestic drama revolves around the home and family lives of the twins. The financial struggles of the Depression and the personal battles with childhood illnesses (scarlet fever, polio) are prominent background features, as is the advent of “talking movies” and frequent trips to the soda shop. The narrative encourages nostalgia from contemporary readers for the days of sit-down family dinners, hand-sewn clothes, and the comfort of Mom’s freshly baked cookies. The book has a strong period feel, which is accentuated by the author’s peppering of words and phrases characteristic of the era throughout the text (many of which have long since disappeared from the American vocabulary). My only complaint is that the novel seems to lack strong dramatic tension and a central climatic event. Despite this objection, I found the story as a whole touching and felt that it allowed me a glimpse of what life may have been like for my grandparents’ generation, so entirely different from my own high-tech, fast-paced existence.