Reviewed by Deborah Lloyd for Readers' Favorite
When American soldier John Morton saved a young Parisian woman, Danièle Foucher, from a threatening barber days after Liberation Day celebrations in 1944, a romance began. John and Danielle (she changed her name to the American version) settled in a duplex in Clearsboro, New Jersey. John started his career as an insurance agent, and Danielle tried to adjust to this different lifestyle and make a few friends. The birth of identical twin daughters, named Monique and Sophie, in the summer of 1952 gave her life purpose. In The Shadow Wife by Gayle Ridinger, the theme of identity is paramount.
As the twin girls struggle with their individual characteristics and goals during school years, their lives become more and more divergent. A few times they switched identities, primarily for fun, but another time for a major test. As young adults, Monique remained single, focused on an academic career in Chicago. Sophie married a radiologist named Matt Gagliardi, part of a large Italian family. They live in a large home and have a sweet little girl named Leslie-Ann. Their marriage, however, is less than ideal – and Monique agrees to help.
This book engages the reader from the first page to the last. The author is an excellent writer, and the story unfolds in captivating ways. The characters are developed fully, and the feelings and motivations of each main character are disclosed, bit by bit. In The Shadow Wife, author Gayle Ridinger presents an intriguing plot, with an unforeseen conclusion. This is an extraordinary read for those who appreciate a deeper understanding of personality and identity formation.