Lost Identity – The Growth of a Lie. 
  Helen Catherine Cramer

Published by Book Pal  2012

Review by Dr Nance Millar

The story is set in a time frame from 1927 – 1960 situated essentially in rural New South Wales . The icons of the social context of the times, such as the  Hotel Australia, David Jones Department Store in Sydney and the more basic ‘Sargent’s Pies’, give the story a certain  authenticity.   It is a gentle family story that takes the reader through the hardship of farming and, as it is told, highlights the complexity of human emotions as related to family life and loyalty. This aspect is tested when successful entries in a competition,  offer undreamed of opportunities for the twin daughters, Clara and Carla,  to come to Sydney and further their ambitions in two very different ways.  The similarity of their names is of significance in the story. They share a close relationship but their characters are convincingly portrayed, as opposites.  The love of the parents underpins decisions that  are made all through the story  but particularly their concerns related to their daughters coming to the large capital city.   As the story advances, each family member has a different agenda for the way they want life to be.  When Clara is selected to go to London for further training in  a modeling career and film-screen actress, the relationship between the daughters frays.  As Carla is left behind, she is resentful of her ‘lot in life’; in helping on the farm. A complication arises when the mother becomes very ill and subsequently dies, leaving the father in a desperate state of grief.   Further on in the story guilt plays a deep-seated part in affecting change.

As a reader,    I wanted to ‘turn the page’ to find out what was going to happen next and found that as the ‘plot’  evolved it surprised with ‘the twist in the tale’.  The unexpected turn of events and complications that accompanied them, always ensured engagement  of the reader. These features were continually drawing on the strengths and flaws in the characters of the  twin sisters, who were the main characters in the story. Finally as a result of the tangled emotions and the tragedies associated with them, one was hoping that where the feelings had been misconstrued, they would be finally resolved.   I was relieved and happy that in the final pages it was revealed that the ‘lost love’ had never really been at risk even  after all the life-changing sad events which had caused  misunderstandings.  

It is a romantic novel that would have wide appeal for most people, essentially those who have lived through that period as they would identify with many aspects of the story, particularly the social, cultural and moral mores of the day.

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