‘Their twin gestation held the kind of sickly fascination usually reserved for some gruesome act of nature: a fly trapped in a huntsman’s web, a snake swallowing a mouse. Blind little babies, so Mary often imagined, curled up together for nine whole months, their spines aligned, sardine-like. Worst of all, they were naked.’
Thirteen-year-old twins Dominic and Mary have very different natures: Dominic, quiet and serious, is drawn to the natural world, while Mary, a talented artist, is passionate and imaginative. The country town of Kyneton, still grappling with the legacy of World War II, cannot contain her ambitions for a life of creative endeavour.
When their father dies unexpectedly, the reverberations send the two in different directions. Mary escapes to the bohemian haunts of Melbourne while Dominic stays behind, riven by responsibility and an unwavering loyalty to their mother. But the siblings share a special bond, of the kind only twins do, and each struggles with the loss of the other as they begin to carve out new lives. When a secret emerges with the potential to affect them both, will they be drawn together once more?
Set in an era of social constraint and profound scientific discovery, The Science of Appearances explores the inexorable pull of the past and the indelible bond we share with those who know us best. Rendered in beautifully evocative prose, this tender, powerful, touching novel shows how the complex interplay of heredity and environment makes, shapes, and sometimes breaks us.