Author: Samantha Hastings
Title: The Invention of Sophie Carter
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: July 14th 2020
Genres: Historical Romance, Young Adult
Identical twin sisters take turns swapping places over the course of a summer in order to pursue their secret ambitions in Samantha Hastings’ Victorian YA romance.
1851. Bounced from one begrudging relative to another their whole lives, orphaned identical twins Sophie and Mariah Carter have always relied on each other for love and support, even though the sisters couldn’t be more different.
Brash Sophie wants to be an inventor, and demure Mariah wants to be an artist. Both long to visit London for the summer—Sophie to see the Queen’s Great Exhibition and Mariah to study the world’s finest collection of paintings. But when their cantankerous aunt answers their letter pleading for a place to stay, she insists she only has time and room to spare for one of them.
So, Mariah and Sophie hatch a clever scheme: They will travel to London together and take turns playing the part of “Sophie”.
At first the plan runs like clockwork. But as the girls avoid getting caught by increasingly narrow margins and two handsome gentlemen—both of whom think they’re falling in love with the real Sophie Carter—enter the equation, the sisters find they don’t have the situation quite as under control as they thought.
With all sorts of delightful Parent Trap-style identical twin hijinks, The Invention of Sophie Carter is the perfect light-and-sweet palate cleanser.
Mariah set the letter on the table. “That’s settled then,” she said in a voice not quite her own. “You’ll go and find yourself a husband.”
“But I don’t want a husband,” Sophie protested. She wrapped her arms around herself, trying to hide her disappointment. “I want to be an inventor. You should go. You’d like a husband, I daresay. Besides, you’re prettier than I am.”
“We’re identical. I can’t possibly be prettier than you.”
“Your hair is a shade darker and I have half an inch on you.”
“She asked for her niece named Sophronia, not Mariah.”
“She would never know the difference,” Sophie retorted. “Mrs. Ellis still can’t tell us apart and we’ve lived with her for eight years. Lady Bentley’s never laid eyes on either of us.”
“Sophie, you silly thing. This might be your only chance for a better life, to join good society,” Mariah said, her voice thick with emotion.
“I pray that it is, and that you will take it,” Sophie said, tapping her foot again. “Can you see me dancing and flirting? I can’t. But you would be so happy. You could go to art museums and become a proper artist—”
“What about the Great Exhibition?”
“Lady Bentley clearly wrote that I wouldn’t be going,” Sophie said glumly. “Society has the most ridiculous notions about a woman’s place. I can bake bread or go to local balls, but I’m not to work with mechanisms or create machinery.”
“I wish we could both go,” Mariah said wistfully. “Mrs. Ellis is with child again, and they don’t really have the space for us anymore. Sarah and Agnes are getting big enough now to help with the smaller children. We’re only a burden on them.”
“Is that why she’s so cantankerous? I should’ve guessed,” Sophie said. “Well, then we both should go.”
As soon as Sophie spoke those words aloud, her tapping foot stilled, the nervous tension that had caused her fidgeting dissipated. It was the perfect solution, a chance for them both to start afresh. The fragile hope that had sparked within her chest at the prospect of attending the exhibition began to grow into a flame of resolution.
Sophie grabbed her sister by her bony shoulders. “Come with me, Mariah.”
“Lady Bentley can only stand the burden of one of us,” Mariah reminded her. A tear slipped from her eye and fell down her cheek.
“We won’t tell her that there are two of us,” Sophie said.
“We’ll both be ‘Sophie’ and take turns going on outings and such. We could wear the same clothes and share a bedroom.”
“And what exactly will the second Sophie do while the other is with Lady Bentley?” Mariah asked doubtfully, wiping away another tear with the back of her hand.
“Explore London! Perhaps the window to our room will be accessible by a roof or balcony of some sort,” Sophie said loudly, her excitement bursting out into her voice. “Either way, I daresay I could come up with an invention to aid in our exits and entrances.”
“The whole idea is ridiculous,” Mariah said with a sniff.
“The best ideas always are,” Sophie assured her, feeling more and more confident with every passing moment.
“We may be identical, but we are not at all the same.”
“Mariah, you know we have nowhere else to go but the workhouse,” Sophie said. “And you also know that we can’t stay here forever. You can find a husband in London or become a painter, but there is nothing for us here. Unless you’d like to marry the butcher’s son. His attentions have been quite marked, and Mrs. Ellis likes the extra meat it gets her.”
“I couldn’t marry, Mr. Adams,” Mariah said with a shiver. “He has leering eyes.”
“Then stop arguing with me and come to London.”
“I suppose we could try . . . ,” Mariah said. “But what if we get caught?”
Sophie shrugged. “Lady Bentley would send one or both of us back here, but we wouldn’t be any worse off than we are now.”
Mariah nodded her head slowly, as if considering the possibilities. “It would be a great adventure to go to London.”
“That’s the spirit, Mariah!” Sophie said, hugging her sister. “You start packing and I’ll finish Mrs. Bidwell’s clock.”
Samantha Hastings has degrees from Brigham Young University, the University of Reading (Berkshire, England), and the University of North Texas. She met her husband in a turkey sandwich line. They live in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she spends most of her time reading, eating popcorn, and chasing her kids. She is the author of THE LAST WORD, THE INVENTION OF SOPHIE CARTER, and A ROYAL CHRISTMAS QUANDARY.