The Invention of Sophie Carter

Written by Samantha Hastings
Review by Valerie Adolph

Identical red-headed twins Sophie and Mariah arrive in London in 1851, the year of the Great Exhibition. This is only important to Sophie, a budding inventor.  Mariah is determined to become an artist.

Orphaned in early childhood, the twins have lived in harsh conditions with families who did not care for them. Now their mother’s rich sister, Aunt Bentley, has invited one of them—but only one—to live with her in luxury for one London season to find a rich, titled husband. The twins cannot bear to be separated so they hatch a plot to both go live with their aunt and appear alternately as Sophie.

Complications arise, especially when each twin finds the love of her life (luckily both rich and titled), but neither gentleman understands why the young lady he loves appears so changeable. At one ball she is a graceful dance partner, at the next she seems to be all left feet. Confusion continues as the girls pursue their dreams and develop a more mature understanding of their individual personalities.

This novel is a delightful combination of coming-of-age and Cinderella, a tale told with humor and warmth. The characters of the twins are delineated with care, showing similarities but also the growing differences as each finds a way to understand her individual gifts and how they can be developed even if they should marry the man they love. The author has done considerable research, not only into the period but also into the details of engineering and the working of clocks. She presents a thoroughly believable pair of protagonists, true to their time but also relatable to the present-day reader.