Two Women

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Apr 2018

Member Reviews

DNF @ 20%

I usually try to read at least 30% of a book before giving up. However there are always exceptions to the rule and Two Women is one of them. I'm not sure this book is actually bad; but I do know it's blurb and the marketing for it are. 

Religion in Literature
I'm not opposed to religion as a construct. Whatever you chose to believe and feel faith in is fine by me so long as it harms none. I enjoy reflecting on religion and it's use in literature when the religion(s) are fictional, like in a fantasy, sci-fi or dystopian setting. The problem with using real religion is that it's too steeped in people's minds. Regardless of what religion the reader might believe the reality is that we are all biased in some way against the main religions of today. This makes it difficult for us to divide the line between our beliefs and what a story may be telling us. As such I believe that it's very important, and I truly appreciate, those books which identify themselves as 'Christian' or 'Islamic' or whatever religion they are steeped in. 
Unfortunately Christene A. Browne's Two Women was not marketed as a Christian book. Yet reading the first 20% there is no doubt that Two Women relies heavily on the assumption that the reader believes in a god (or the God in this case) and will have no problem with a set up where our characters are overtly Christian. This may work for many people; and I'm glad that we have free speech to allow for this literature to be written and be a comfort to some. All I ask is that it be labelled as such so I do not make the mistake I made here and pick-up a book that is clearly not meant for me. 

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
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When I decided to read it, I didn’t remember what it was about 'Two Women' that drew me in. Was it that the title had ‘women’ in it? Was it that, for a change, the story was ALL about women? Was it the cover that pulled me in? Whatever it was, I was glad I forgot because then, I could be surprised if I liked it. Or if I didn’t.

Bernice Archer raises two blind, middle-aged daughters, Eva and Ava. It is their tradition that she tells them stories spun out of imagination and inspiration. She has always told them that bowel movements are better than anything that men could make a woman feel. Is this a façade to save her daughters from the truth about their father? Or is she just trying to protect her daughters from the world?

One day, on her return from errands, she runs into two of her neighbors who inspire her stories of Violet and Rose – both of whose mothers had the same notion of woman’s submission to man. But Violet and Rose, Bernice discovers, are made of stronger stuff than their mothers. What follows is how Bernice and her daughters help Violet and Rose discover more than just their dreams.

Now that I am done reading ‘Two Women’, it feels like I’m not sure what I think and feel about the book. Sure, there were a few points where I was angered, a few points where I was sad, rare points that made me happy, and quite a few that annoyed me. And during the entirety of the book, I was in a bad state of mind. It annoyed me somewhat. Not in the Why am I reading this? sort, but in the Why do such truths have to be stated right now? way.

While the story of domestic abuse interlinked with soul connections is quite touching in hindsight, it didn’t work for me as much as I would have hoped it would. When you start off with blurred timelines that confuse the reader in the first few pages, one cannot be sure how it is going to go.

The story of 'Two Women' is captivating up to a point. But then, it becomes repetitive. It takes away from the impact of telling a story of abuse and neglect. All you do in the end is groan and say, ‘Oh no! Not again!’ It annoys to see that they aren’t standing up to the atrocities.

Coming to Eva and Ava. They are 53-year-old twins. Blind, I agree, but for the entirety of the book, they act like hormonal teenage girls. I would understand where the hormones come from, because they have never been with a man before. But using that to overshadow what could have been a more impactful character pair is not fair, in my opinion. Eva and Ava could have been so much more than just blind twins.

In the end, though I sympathize with Violet and Rose and quite like their character arcs, there is not much else I like about it. The language and writing style are good, and the few spelling mistakes can be ignored. But overall, it didn’t much work for me. However, I still feel that this book should reach a wider audience just to show how people can change colors with their situations. It isn’t right most of the time, but it is what it is.

All in all, I’d say for 'Two Women', read it, but without any expectations. And then maybe, you’ll like it.
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I was both entranced and repelled by this novel.  The characters were well-written and bizarre.  The story line was compelling.
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There is a nice symmetry to the premise: obese Bernice entertains her unattractive adult twin daughters, Evaline and Avaline, with stories about their absent father, and their past, and also she mixes in some about two other twin-like characters named Rose and Violet, who end up being as beautiful, sexually experienced, and travelled as Eva and Ava are not.  

It seemed at times the writer was sticking up for fat women, or ugly women, or blind women; but the main characters described as such evidence, or are allotted, no redemption, vindication or justification. I found this very folksy, meandering read to offer little in the way of either challenge or reward. Running throughout was a not-uplifting litany of instances of women being mistreated by awful men (womanizers, layabouts, cheats, abusers, etc), terrible role models and grievously faulty parental modeling. Violet grew up defiant and Rose angelic, but they both ended up victims; and of their husbands "Robert had been raised in a world of poverty and favoritism, while Douglas's world had been one of wealth and neglect... Even though Robert's ego had been over inflated, and Douglas's diminished, the pair had turned out similar in so many ways." I didn't like the unfunny, filthy dialog; and the theme which seemed to be "if you are a woman, everybody will treat you badly, except maybe your twin."
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There's a element of a fairy tale running through this book.  The stories told to Eva and Ava bring them into a magical world, full of dangers. Now, as adults, they are more curious than ever...are these stories real or just cautionary tales? Where did they come from?

Their mother begins a new story....and they, and us, as the reader, questions where the line between fact and fiction lies.

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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