Translated from German by Charlotte Collins

I may have squealed for joy when the postie delivered this ornate-liveried tome, the second Haratischvili to be translated into English. Though this book had a mountain to climb before I even turned the first page. I’ve been blogging for over 15 years and in that time only 3 novels have pushed others aside to enter my top 10 of all time. Haratischvili’s The Eighth Life is one of them. A tough act for My Soul Twin to follow, don’t you think? But there was another even bigger hurdle – the kinship with Wuthering Heights, which I detest. I’d willingly throw Heathcliffe off the cliff, and consign Cathy to a white padded cell (throwing away the key in the process.) Now imagine the toxicity of that relationship transposed to the 21st century with all its sexual licence …

Ugh!

I’m tempted to leave it at that, realising that my poison is another man’s elixir …

so I’ll pass you to the detailed reviews that Lisa and Tony have posted for GLM XII. I will say though that I did read to the end, because, even if Haratischvili is telling a story I find distasteful, it is addictive, A car crash waiting to happen. But somehow, the emotional intensity, which held me in its thrall during the 900 pages of The Eighth Life, simply repelled me here. Perhaps because I don’t see Stella (Cathy) and Ivo (Heathcliffe) as victims of circumstance. I just wanted both of them to grow up, and, behave like the soul twins Stella professes them to be. The connection to the Georgian civil war in the final section of the novel added historical substance and turned the novel into something other than a Bronte retelling. While it was a connection that didn’t quite convince, I have an inkling that this is where Haratischvili discovered her penchant for writing historical fiction because 3 years later she penned the magnificent The Eighth Life.

My Soul Twin obviously didn’t work for me as a followup to that novel Considering it as a development piece of a talented author is a different proposition altogether. The obvious irony in the title will keep me mulling for weeks, and I do like a circular structure. Interesting to note that the novel written after The Eighth Life, Die Katze und der General (The Cat and The General) was shortlisted for the 2018 German Book Prize. Here’s hoping it makes its way into English.