Friday, August 31, 2012

Francine Pascal's The Wakefield Legacy The Untold Story

          Following up Francine Pascal's The Wakefields of Sweet Valley comes The Wakefield Legacy: The Untold Story.  In this novel, Pascal takes the same five generation journey as before but follows the twins' of Sweet Valley High's paternal side, starting with Theo Wakefield who leaves his family and inheritance of title and estate in England to travel to America in 1866.  Again, the characters are enjoyable to read but the author lets down the reader by imposing events and actions that do not seem natural to the character.
          In Theo Wakefield, Pascal hardens his heart and he becomes what he ran away from, which fits some people but not the good and loving man she paints Theo.  Before his last decision on the pages of the novel, Pascal takes away his brother, his parents, his home, the two women he loves (one in 1866 and one years later) and his twin son.  This being the case and him doting upon his daughter, it does not seem likely that he would make any decision that would cost him his daughter (only living child and piece of his last love).
          From Theo, Pascal creates enjoyable characters: his daughter who experiences the San Francisco quake, to her son Ted whose story is completely heart breaking and the one that connects to the women's novel with Amanda and mirrors Theo's story in him losing his two loves, then his son who participates in WWII and finally his grandson who is a child of the sixties and becomes the father of the Sweet Valley High twins.
          The WWII story in this novel is the best of the ten stories about the twins' ancestors and is exciting, dangerous, and wound up very nicely. Robert and Hannah Weiss are well crafted and believable. They would be the couple most suggested to be read and then the story of the parents of the twins is the next best story.  The novel was well written but again the sadness and tragedy seemed forced into it to make the Wakefields bump into the women's line several times before finally ending up together when it might have been better to have just not had them meet until the parents' generation.

Francine Pascal's Sweet Valley Saga The Wakefields of Sweet Valley

          Most women have either heard about, read, or even watched the twins of Sweet Valley High at some point in their lives, but they may not have heard of the two prequels before the series.  In The Wakefields of Sweet Valley, Francine Pascal takes the reader through the five generations of women before the Sweet Valley High twins.  This book moves from 1866 with Alice Larson traveling from Sweden to the US through the story of her tragic children, twins in the 1920s, a girl who grows to be a woman in the French resistance in WWII, and finally to the twins' mother Alice Robertson who is a child of the sixties.
          Though the stories are exciting and cover interesting points in history, it is hard to get through.  The writing is simple and inviting, causing the reader to move quickly through the pages; however, heart ache after heart ache beats down on these characters.  Yes, they do continue on and make lives for themselves in some way or another but most of the stories are tragic or just short of tragic and some of the tragedies seem author imposed instead of natural to the plot and or characters.  For instance, Alice Larson's grand-daughter Amanda falls in love with a man and when her twin sister does something unforgivable to drive the two apart while pretending to be Amanda, it is left unexplained to the man.  Amanda sends a letter to him but it seems more realistic for her, a character who already braved going to all the jails in the area to look for him, to actually go to his home in person and make sure that he at least knew she hadn't betrayed him.  Amanda just stays home and nurses her broken heart and then raises her sister's child instead of doing anything and this just seems unbelievable.
          The most entertaining stories were the last two stories, but perhaps that is because one was less tragic and the other was not even really painful.  Another reason these were enjoyable may be the back drop of the stories.  WWII in France is a vastly intriguing topic and opens itself to being romanticized through the eyes of a young girl falling in love.  The sixties, it can be supposed, may be interesting to some.
          Francine Pascal succeeded in creating inviting characters that draw the reader in and sewing a pattern into all of the stories with a wooden rose from the first Alice to the second, but this story would not be something easy to re-read. She also told the tale of losing love and moving on with life and finding it in a different way, which is something good to share with society. Therefore, the characters are well crafted and the plot interesting at times, but the book is removed far from the favorite's list because of its tragic often author imposed losses.