I was excited to see that Nino Haratischvili had a new book coming out, My Soul Twin – and even more excited when I realised that it wasn’t a brick like The Eighth Life! (That book was good, but holy heck, it was loooooong.) My Soul Twin has been translated into English by Charlotte Collins, and the fine folks at Scribe were kind enough to send me a copy for review.
My Soul Twin is basically a modern-day Wuthering Heights: “Two families, one devastating secret, and an epic story of forbidden love.” The narrator is Stella, a 36-year-old married woman with a son and a… complicated family history. The human inciting incident is Ivo, her kind-of brother, who comes back to town and stirs up their shared past.
Stella and Ivo grew up mostly in the care of their (kind of) grandmother, while their father was drunk and their mother was chasing true love on the other side of the world. It’s a messy family situation, to say the least, even before you factor in Stella and Ivo’s secret love and a traumatic event that has bonded them – for better or worse – forever.
Now, here’s where I must bring in my own personal experience of reading My Soul Twin, to give this review some context. I’m starting to think my relationship with Cathy and Heathcliff (or Stella and Ivo, as the case may be) is cursed. When I first read Wuthering Heights, I was having a tough time personally, and found it really hard to engage with their manufactured drama. And now, the week I read My Soul Twin, I came down with COVID, and could barely get through half a page at a time.
From what I can make out from the notes I took while whacked out with fever, My Soul Twin struck me (at the time) as 300 pages of self-destructive middle-class navel gazing. Haratischvili captured the histrionics of the Brontë classic perfectly. The pathos, the inner turmoil, the burning-your-happy-life-down-to-fuck-your-adopted-brother, oy!
I also made note of some trigger warnings: family violence, sexual violence, and a violent dog death mentioned briefly (twice).
In the end, I think I’m going to need to re-read My Soul Twin when I’m fighting fit to make a fair assessment of it (same goes for Wuthering Heights, come to that). But if you loved the original, the classic tale of a doomed love affair between adopted siblings, then you’ll probably love this version, too.
Buy My Soul Twin on Booktopia here. (affiliate link)