A Spanish Lover

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Francis and Lizzie, identical twins nearing forty, have always shared life. They believed that their lives were so intertwined that they could not have the same experiences, only share each others. Lizzie had chosen a life as a mother and with her husband ran a successful business. Francis, on the other hand, sort of fell into a solitary life as a travel agent. Their family and friends always believed that Francis was the more dependent twin, but this idea is questioned when Francis’ business starts to succeed and Lizzie’s picture perfect life starts to crumble. The Spring that Lizzie and Robert’s store stops bringing in enough money to cover their debt is the same Spring that Francis, while on business in Spain, falls in love and has an engrossing affair with a wealthy Spaniard, Luis.

It becomes evident early in the story that Francis is less dependent on Lizzie than Lizzie is on Francis. When Francis meets her lover and effectively removes herself from her old lifestyle just as Lizzie needs her the most, Lizzie loses interest in her own family and business. She nearly destroys her marriage because of her jealousy, not of the new exciting life that Francis is leading, but of Luis. Then Francis demonstrates her independence once again by deciding to get pregnant by Luis, even though he is still married and does not want a child. Francis’ ability to make choices for herself, whether right or wrong, gives the other characters in the book, including Lizzie, the strength to act likewise.

Joanna Trollope is well-known for both her fiction and nonfiction, and in THE SPANISH LOVER she is sure to keep up her reputation. The story is swift and involved. The narrative is supplied by first person accounts of the events in the story, mostly from Lizzie and Francis, but also from their parents and friends. While the characters tend to be on the eccentric side, they are very believable and interesting.