One of the best sagas Virginia Andrews "wrote" in 1994. Ruby is a teenager who lives with her grandmother in the swamps of Louisiana; there they lead a precarious life and she helps her grandmother by selling paintings made by herself, among other gadgets and groceries she displays in a stand on the edge of the road.
Despite how hard the situation is Ruby seems to enjoy her life in the swamps. At school she meets Paul Tate, a very attractive guy son of one of the wealthiest families of the marshes and it is only when they attempt to establish a formal relationship that her grandmother Catherine reveals the truth that will keep them apart for a long time. This confession impels Ruby to put distance between them with the excuse that she wants to meet other guys.
But admissions do not end here, grandmother Catherine has more to say before she passes away. Ruby's father lives in the city of New Orleans and there is where she should go once Ruby’s grandmother dies. After the funeral and having let Paul know the truth about their origin and the circumstances that bring them together, Ruby travels to New Orleans in search of her father; where she acknowledges the existence of a twin sister; an urban copy of herself.
From now on everyday life in the city becomes a whirlwind of sharp and unexpected turns for Ruby; while trying to adapt to a new context she must face the emergence of new characters that will produce painful impacts in her life. Keeping a harmonious relationship with her sister means an additional challenge for Ruby, until a decisive event cut short both girls’ plans. Ruby blames herself for the misfortune and decides to bear the burden of what happened, her penance will be to give up her own dreams.
This novel, like all novels Virginia Andrews wrote, is fraught with catastrophe and incest. And as usual the story never gets boring, since it's always something happening unexpectedly; setbacks and discoveries happen all the time. This is a smooth reading and easy to conclude, no doubt the reader will be willing to continue with the second part of the saga.
The villains of the story are unspeakably evil; and perhaps the most irritating aspect of the work is that the good characters backslide into stupidity again and again; such is the case of Pierre Dumas (father of Ruby and Giselle) although he strives to provide Ruby with a warm home, he actually remains unaware of what happens in the family, and if he were to suspect something he would surely feel overwhelmed by the effort that represents to muster enough courage to face his wife or his daughter Giselle and give Ruby the proper place; eventually he would opt for the easy alternative of leaving her at the mercy of Ruby’s stepmother and sister.
Ruby meanwhile, is the typical protagonist who was born to suffer; her life is filled up with a succession of tragic events that make up her sad existence. This girl despite her experience does not learn anything; she continues to allow others to abuse her without making any protest. This is a clear example of the disastrous consequences that religious and superstitious influence rooted from childhood lead to; it is particularly reflected when Ruby takes the blame for what happened to Giselle as a presumed reply of her prayers.