The Shadow Wife - Gayle Ridinger - 3D book cover

The Shadow Wife – Gayle Ridinger

The Shadow Wife’ is a thought-provoking novel of life and fate – of belonging and discovering your own individuality – of finding your place in this world regardless of age.


Twin sisters at the hairdresser. It could not get more innocent than that, right? But the blonde and brunette insist upon becoming identical again. Like when they were young and even their parents had difficulty keeping them apart. One is eager, the other is anxious. Both are determined. As to the why we have no clue – there’s more than meets the eye…

My Thoughts

What a thought-provoking tale of fate and life itself. Sometimes instant decisions and chance connections make a lasting impact – like when John Morton saw a madman chasing a young French girl in the streets of Paris at the end of WWII. Without hesitation, he shot the man threatening Danielle, his future wife. Together they’d have two daughters, Sophie and Monique, identical twins.

After the hairdresser’s scene, the narrative dives back to the past, ‘the beginning,’ the first of the three parts the book is divided in; the last part picks up the storyline in the present. From chapter one on, it is a fascinating story of belonging and finding your own identity. Danielle, the French girl whisked away to the USA after WWII, is an intriguing character and the author shows us how it feels like being neither part of one world nor another.

I’ve always wondered how it would be like to have twins – it sort of has a magical feel to me. The presumed strong bond, their ability to know how the other feels or to read their minds even. Sophie and Monique, however, have quite different characters, as the author expertly relayes by giving us peeks into their internal world.

“Being Sophie seemed to slow down her thinking: she found she had to put her own thoughts on hold while she listened carefully…”

– Monique, in ‘The Shadow Wife’

Where Sophie is demure and eager to please, all in all, a soft and gentle soul, Monique is almost the complete opposite; outgoing, independent, and desperate to make her own stamp on the world. I found Monique an intriguing, and fascinating character, a strong and feisty woman capable of making her own decisions – I love her.

Then something happens. It is not what it seems to be – it is explained in different ways – the family is good at closing their eyes to the reality. It changes the whole dynamic of their foursome. To me, the hairdresser’s scene and following events are of lesser importance than this, this poignant moment in time that changes everything and shapes their future.

This is the essence of the novel, this is what attracts me to the book: the exploration of topics as perception and appearances, expectations and pressure, of finding your (own) way in life (both for the girls and their parents), of creating your own today and shaping the future, of finding your happy place.

About the Author

Gayle Ridinger is an American with family ties both to Italy and to the American Civil War town of Gettysburg–both important in THE SECRET PRICE OF HISTORY, her novel co-written with her husband Paolo Pochettino.

An award-winning translator of modern Italian poetry, she has had a children’s book, A STAR AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, published in five languages. Gayle has lived in Italy for over thirty years and teaches English and translation at a university near Milan, Italy.

Book Info

Available at Amazon:

Pages283 pages
Publisher (26 Mar. 2007)
ISBN (paperback)9780615140391

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