Karen Lewis

Double Trouble

Hard Luck


Quartet Books 197pp £8.95 order from our bookshop

Hard Luck describes the comic, frequently unhappy adventures of identical twins, Richard and Tom, from their birth in Macmillan’s Fifties to adolescence in the more affluent and progressive Seventies.

The tone might be lighthearted but times are indeed hard for Richard , who narrates the story, and Tom. Their father, who initially appears in the guise of a harmless, if uncaring, drunk from a seaside postcard, turn out to be a wife-and-childbatterer. Matters come to a head – literally – when his brothers-in-law decide to give him a taste of his own medicine and bash him about with a cricket bat. Divorce is inevitable. The twins’ frail mother struggles on, making do, but eventually succumbs to cancer and is hospitalized for two years. Shades of the workhouse now close upon the growing boys: they’ re neglected by a monstrous foster mother and then bullied in a home for delinquents. Among their many misfortunes is one they couldn’t possibly have anticipated – the decision to set their history in a cramped typeface which strains the eyes.

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