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Deception

(1987)
(If I Were You)
A novel by

 
 
Publisher's Weekly
In 1815, two look-alike girls in an English boarding school agree to trade places. Louisa, priggish, bound for the life of a missionary, and Alvey, a budding writer of romances, make a compact for one year. With the conspiratorial assistance of Louisa's elder sisters, Alvey becomes a member of the tangled Winship family in a rambling Northumberland household. She wins their affections to such an extent that as the deception gradually unravels (to no one's astonishment), Alvey is importuned by allexcept the returning, disgruntled Louisato stay on. Unfortunately, the complexities, entanglements and ''sad geometry'' of the strange Winships tax the reader's patience and credulity. Still, Aiken, prolific author of period romances (Mansfield Revisited, The Five-Minute Marriage, etc.), manages to vividly evoke the ambience of the great country house of the Regency period despite the bulk of an overladen plot.

Library Journal
Aiken ( Mansfield Revisited , The Smile of the Stranger ), has created an unwieldy, poorly written, boring novel in search of a genre. Louisa Winship and Alvey Clement, who are physical doubles, have spent three years at the same school without much contact. Louisa wants only to be a missionary in India. She persuades Alvey, who wants to write, to impersonate her at the family home in Northumberlandan easy task because no one there has had any contact with Louisa for four years. That's it for the plot. Dialogue is stilted. Though it has elements of each, this has none of the zest or humor of a Regency, the excitement and terror of a Gothic, nor the fluidity of a mainstream novel. Not recommended.Paula M. Zieselman, Sarah Lawrence Coll. Lib., Bronxville, N.Y.

Genre: Historical

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