Review & Giveaway: The Double by Alison Brodie

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Title: The Double

By: Alison Brodie

Publication Date: January 19, 2016

Genre: Chick Lit

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           ☆☆➹⁀☆4 stars☆➹⁀☆☆

 

What it’s about:

Beth is mistaken for rock star Sonita La Cruz, and ends up on a billionaire-dollar yacht. As a shift-worker in Glasgow, Beth has only known hardship. Now she’s in a world of uniformed stewards, delicious French food and rows of gorgeous designer clothes. Beth keeps quiet about the mix-up, determined to wear every outfit in her wardrobe before she’s sent home. What’s wrong with a little play-acting? Beth takes to the role of rock diva like a duck takes to water.

Aleksandr, the captain, arrives and is astonished to see a beautiful raven-haired girl lying on deck issuing orders through a loud-hailer. After talking to Beth, Aleksandr realises what has happened. His smuggling buddies, knowing Aleksandr needs to speak to Sonita about a kid’s crisis, grabbed Beth by mistake. Aleksandr is desperate. To save those children, he needs money, but Sonita has disappeared.

Beth rises to the challenge. She looks like Sonita, so why not BE Sonita? Beth does a magazine interview for one million dollars, and ransoms herself for another million. Beth saves the kids … but can she save herself? Too late, Beth discovers why Sonita disappeared.

 

Review:

The Double by Allison Brodie is a highly entertaining story with some interesting twists to the doppelganger premise. This unique work of fiction does have a basis in truth; I had not heard of some of the small Eastern European countries in the story. The Double defies genre categorization as it is at times fun and mad-cap, and at other times though-provoking with a sprinkle of history and romance.

The Double is told from four points of view, each of which tells a different thread of the story. The setting changes from the UK to Eastern Europe. Poverty and luxury are sharply contrasted as the story moves from St. Tropez yacht harbors and closets filled with haute couture to sick children in impoverished and war-torn Eastern European mining towns. The beginning of the book is a bit confusing, but stick with it as all will be revealed in a very delightful way. Brodie brought together the complex introduction of the multiple story threads and characters admirably. The interwoven plots provide for an exciting read. There is never a dull moment in this book!

The cast of characters is huge. From boorish husbands, to pop-chart stars to smugglers and revolutionaries, Brodie’s quirky characters are well developed. I loved Beth, the unappreciated wife and nurse, who is mistaken for singing sensation, Sonita La Cruz. Her life needed a good shaking up, and she certainly gets one when she is accidentally kidnapped. Beth takes those lemons and makes a giant batch of lemonade. She finds inner strength and self-appreciation while taking every twist and turn in stride. Most of the main characters have experiences that lead them to personal growth, success, and love.

It is obvious that in addition to skilled storytelling, Ms. Brodie excels at research. Her book is filled with geographic details and current issues. Brodie’s witty sense of humor shines through each hair-brained idea the characters hatch. The writing quality, story complexity, and unique premise make The Double a captivating, light-hearted tale.

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Excerpt:

How could she communicate with these men? And where they hell were they going?

It was as if the man in the frilly apron had read her mind. He produced pen and paper and began to draw a crooked diagram. Within seconds she realised what she was seeing: a map of Great Britain! He was trying to tell her where they were heading. He drew some waves, then the bulging outline of Western Europe.

Please, God, she mentally pleaded. Don’t draw Africa.

Thankfully, the pen moved back up, to the north-west tip of Spain and made a cross. ‘Vigo,’ her host explained.

She nodded. ‘Vigo.’ She took a slug of coffee. God, it was delicious.

Two inches above Vigo, he drew a boat with a stick figure with long black hair. ‘eto-Vy,’ he said, pointing to her.

‘OK, that’s me,’ she agreed, pointing to herself. She watched as he drew a straight line from the stick figure to the cross. ‘And I’m going to Vigo!’ The pieces of the puzzle were finally fitting into place and – actually – this was fun.

‘Vigo! Vigo!’ The two men chorused, delighting in her cleverness. Frilly Apron drew a stick man in the sea just above the cross. ‘Aleksandr Shtcherbatsky Zhivago,’ he announced.

The stick man had a tiny body, a big head and a bigger smile, his arms thrown wide as if eager to hug her. ‘Mm,’ she murmured dubiously. By the time she met this person, she would be in no mood to be hugged. Who was he? Another actor, poised to give her clues to the next phase of the game? But what if he didn’t speak English?

‘Does he speak English?’ she asked. Since Frilly Apron was busy adding a smiley sun to his diagram, she had to shake his shoulder to get his attention. She pointed to the stick man, then made a quacking-duck motion with her hand. ‘He speaka Eengleesh?’

Frilly Apron nodded. ‘Da.’

‘Thank Christ for that!’

She studied the sketch, seeing the distance they had travelled and the distance that remained, and calculated that they would be in Vigo in two days. But she didn’t have two days! She had a job! She had a week of twelve-hour shifts! She had to be home to cook Andy’s dinner or he’d go mental. She had to walk Mrs Baxter’s dog. And, she had to pick up Mr Beattie’s pension. Christ, she had responsibilities. She had a life! She couldn’t just sail off into the sunset!

She drained her cup. ‘OK, guys,’ she began, pressing out her palms to acknowledge their understandable mistake. ‘You got the wrong girl. Me?’ She pointed to her chest. ‘Beth Skiffington – not Sonita.’

They grinned widely. ‘Sonita!’ they chirruped.

‘No, non, nix!’ What the fuck was it in Russian? ‘Nyat!

They frowned, puzzled. ‘Nyat?’

She nodded vigorously. ‘Nyat!’

‘Nyat?’

‘Nyat! Nyat!’

She couldn’t believe this was happening. Right now, she should be carrying bed-linen onto the ward, not standing on a speeding boat making the noise of a web-footed wading bird.

The two men looked confused. It was evident that they had it firmly set in their heads that she was Sonita – and why not? She was not only dressed like the rock star and looked like the rock star but she’d also been standing on the gangplank of the rock star’s boat.

There was only one way to prove she wasn’t the singer. Clearing her throat, she began to sing Emeralda. She wasn’t keen on Sonita’s songs because they were too raucous, but this one she did like.

‘This moment must last

For the rest of our lives…’

She sang on, amazed that she could remember the words, relieved that she sounded like a yowling cat.

‘And say goodbye …’ her voice trickled to a stop. The men were smiling – through their tears.

How could she make them understand?

She pointed to the sleeve of her fun-fur coat. If anyone knew about real fur, they would. ‘Look!’ she cried, plucking at the fabric. ‘Polyester crap. Top Budget. Cheap.’ She was getting desperate. ‘Me – not Sonita. Me – not American. Me – not rock star.’

By the expression on their faces, she knew she was talking herself into a cul-de-sac. All they could hear was: Sonita. American. Rock star.

Defeated, she picked up the coffee pot and topped up her cup. These men believed they had the rock singer and nothing, it seemed, could dissuade them. That meant she had no option but to go along for the ride. She looked at the map. She had two inches to go. At least she wasn’t heading for Australia.

 

About the author:  

Alison Brodie is a Scot, with French Huguenot ancestors on her mother’s side of the family.  Alison was a photographic model, modelling for a wide range of products, including Ducatti motorbikes and 7Up.  She was also the vampire in the Schweppes commercial. 

A disastrous modelling assignment in the Scottish Highlands gave Alison an idea for a story, which was to become Face to Face.  She wrote Face to Face as a hobby and then decided to send it off to see what would happen.  It was snapped up by Dinah Wiener, the first agent Alison sent it to.  Three weeks later, Alison signed a two-book deal with Hodder & Stoughton.

While writing  her second book, Sweet Talk, she moved to Kansas and lived there for two years.  She loved the people, their friendliness, their free-and-easy way of life, the history and the BBQs!  Sadly, her visa ran out and she had to come back to the UK – although her dream is to one day live permanently in America.  Now, Alison lives in Biarritz, France.

Alison has taken the exhilarating steps to becoming an indie author.

Alison writes contemporary romance.  She aims for a strong plot line, set against the background of a world-changing event, coupled with touches of humour, sexual tension and character transformation.

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