Bernice is a secretive eccentric elderly lady who lives in a low-income community in relative isolation with her blind twin daughters, Eva and Ava. Every night she tells her middle-aged offspring regurgitated bedtime stories, many of which are cautionary. One day, when Bernice notices something strangely familiar about two of her young neighbours, she is inspired to tell a new story. Through a series of interconnected tales, Bernice speculates about the lives of the two women while disclosing things about her own life that she never spoke of before. Her accounts tell the saga of two women, Violet and Rose who are born at the exact same moment, hemispheres apart and by chance share the same soul. As they grow they live parallel lives and experience each other’s emotions. In reality Bernice’s young neighbours are strangers who both happen to be recent immigrants entangled in abusive relationships. When Bernice goes outside of her normal comfort zone, and invites the two women to tea, and then informs them of their deep connection, they don’t know what to make of her postulation. Her initiative, however, forges a bond between the two unlikely friends. The union strengthens the women and changes their existence and circumstances in unfathomable ways. The lives of Bernice and her daughter’s are also changed for the better. In the end all of Bernice’s painful secrets are revealed. The narrative of Two Women is populated with oddball characters and equally peculiar and comical situations. It is poised to make one think, with its many incidents of unexpected humour, and glimpses into the complexities and various degrees of love and hate that can exist between mothers and daughters and men and women. With hints of mysticism and magical realism, the novel is set to deliver an entertaining, at times shocking romp from beginning to end.
“The female-driven book is haunted by the artistic legacy of absent fathers – Italian arias, poetry from Keats – and the realities revealed when the stories we conjure to replace the truth fall away.” - Maisonneuve Magazine
"Two Women looks to the stars, but Christene A. Browne’s story is as much down-to-earth as it is starry-eyed. It is a promising debut indeed." - Buried in Print
"Two Women is highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Contemporary Fiction collections and will leave the reader looking eagerly toward Browne's next literary effort!"- The Midwest Book Review
With equal doses of sex and humor, the story is bound to entice.
The book was part of the Read Ontario promotion and was named one of the most anticipated books of Fall 2013 by 49th Shelf and is a Dewey Diva’s Picks.