Irish Twins

Anne Shields died at the age of 80. It happened while she was water-skiing. her husband of fifty-four years, Michael, tried to revive her; however, it was no use. There was no return from a massive stroke to the brain stem.

She passed in peace, and entered a new existence in a place called Ohr where her sister, Molly, greeted her with a cup of hot tea. Molly was her Irish Twin. “Irish Twin” is a slang term for two children born to the same mother within a twelve-month period. Its origin is uncertain, but it’s a decidedly derogatory term, which mocks the Irish Catholic culture’s rejection of birth control methods.


This is the story of not one, but two sets of Irish Twins—Anne and Molly— as well as Anne’s daughters, the Irish Twins Jennifer and Catherine. Also known as Jenny and Caylie, they are approaching middle age when their mother dies, and are left to face the world with many unanswered questions about a mother who left them far too quickly.

Anne and Molly reunite in Ohr and Molly, the elder Irish Twin, guides Anne through her judgment. She witnesses her life and the lives of her surviving husband and five children through endless cups of tea, served to her by her sister.

Anne is the heart and soul of this tale. Although she has passed away, she is very much present in the lives of her daughters. She keeps watch over Jenny and Caylie as well as her three additional children, and through her we learn a lot about being a sister, a wife, a parent, a friend. We learn not only about life . . .

. . . but also about death.

What the Reviewers are saying about Irish Twins:

“A moving read that emphasizes the importance of sisterhood, very highly recommended.”
—Midwest Book Review


“Journalist Cozzens has the subject matter and the skills to write a good generational novel of Catholic family life in the latter half of the 20th century in the United States.”
—AZ Daily Star


Irish Twins has a unique style. Deceased Irish twins Molly and Anne sit in Ohr, a sort of middle heaven, if you will, where Anne who has recently passed away can observe her own Irish Twins left behind. It’s like two people watching a movie and commenting on the act, though the main point of view belongs to Anne. Which is fitting because she’s the one we fall in love with when we watch her last struggle with death.

This work is seductive. Just when we think we’ve unraveled the mysteries, we discover we’ve only just scratched the surface. There are secrets galore that test the loyalties of family members.

Michele also gives us lots to think about: forgiveness, contentment and yielding control. I love that the story dares to tackle spirituality. It seems as though the modern writer’s idea of chic is to denigrate the spirit and God.”
—Bisi Adjapon, author of Daughter in Exile


“I finished reading Irish Twins and LOVED it!! Michele Cozzens is such a talented and engaging writer! I so wanted to curl up with a cup of tea at Mitten Lake 🙂

As a mother-to-be of Irish twins, I read this book with great anticipation and was instantly drawn in by Cozzens’ down-to-earth brand of storytelling. She captures the most subtle nuances inherent in familial relationships, while presenting characters that are both authentic and textured. Curl up in bed with a warm cup of tea and immerse yourself in Cozzens’ world.”
—Emily Liebert, author of Facebook Fairytales: Modern-Day Miracles to Inspire the Human Spirit


Irish Twins had me thinking about and understanding so much more about what made my own mother tick. The family dynamic, especially how religion and childhood circumstances mold our adult behavior, will resonate with many readers. It certainly did with me (as both a Catholic turned Episcopalian and an Irish Twin). I particularly learned about my Mom from reading Chapters 7 and 8, as well as the line in Chapter 11, “My offspring consistently showed me how much and how little I was worth.” That line slapped me up the side of the head.

Anne is an intriguing character — water skiing at 80! I liked the detail of the country club women gossiping about Anne in her black bathing suit and couldn’t help but smile at the picture Anne must have made skiing in her older age.

Michele employs excellent literary devices: foreshadowing with a quote about forgiveness at the start of the novel; the mystery of how Molly died; the coffee cups as a metaphor for life’s moments, etc. The story moves well between past and after-death moments, and she’s done a great job of capturing the eras and adding interesting details (like the bubbles meeting). At the end of the novel, there is such a deliciously descriptive and unexpected event. I actually like those types of twisted endings.”
—Lisa Swift, Tucson, AZ


“I have thoroughly enjoyed Irish Twins. The story pulled me in from the first page and it flowed beautifully. The characters were all too believable and extremely likeable, flaws and all. Although it often spoke of life lessons, it never sounded preachy or soppy. If I could find any fault with it, it would be that it ended all too fast. I wanted more, and I will definitely be on the look-out for more of Ms. VanOrt Cozzens’ work for sure.”
—Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views


Irish Twins was a fantastic read and once I really got started I just couldn’t put it down.  Thank you for sharing some wonderful memories of your family and especially of your mom…I know she must have been very beautiful both on the inside and out.  I am recommending Irish Twins as one of our “must reads” for our book club because for me, reading your book has been a worthy investment of my time and energy.  My judgment is based on the mere fact of some message that stays with me long after the book covers have been closed.  Your book gave me two very important messages that will resonate with me for a very long time.  Thank you once again for sharing your gifts and talents with the world…
—Linda Broome, Michigan



[Michele is quite] the writer. In a word, Irish Twins is WONDERFUL! It did take me longer than I thought to finish it, but that was due to no flaw in your story telling. On the contrary, the combination of my emotional bond to your family, and my significant but limited knowledge of actual historical facts, kept me stopping and thinking–Where does the fact end and the fiction start? Sometimes, I could not go no further for a time as I pondered the question. In the end, this matters little. Either you have masterfuly woven the tale with a blend of truth and fiction based on familiar situations, or (and I believe the latter) you have given the reader a deep look into the soul of your family and glimpses of its strengths and weaknesses, wrapped it in a wonderful story, and left us all with the understanding that all that really matters is love and faith.”
—Leon B., Memphis, TN



Generations of Love

By Robin Meloy Goldsby, author of Piano Girl and Rhythm: A Novel

In her newest work, Irish Twins, Michele Cozzens weaves a tapestry of beautiful images with intriguing characters. With lyrical prose and a hefty dose of charm, she tells the unforgettable story of two generations of sisters. The result is enchanting and uplifting—a tonic for the heart.

Jenny and Caylie—one set of Irish twins—and the older generation of sisters, Anne and Molly, learn to love and lean on each other in life, in death, and in that in-between place that all of us wonder about. Cozzens tackles serious themes here, but, as is typical of her writing, she whisks just the right amount of humor into the story. Cozzens’s opening scene details the waterskiing accident that causes Anne’s death, and the lovely mix of humor and tragedy left me breathless and longing to know more about Anne. Anne, it turns out, has a lot to learn about herself.

I’m a big fan of Cozzens’s work. She keeps changing the game, bouncing from memoir—I’m Living Your Dream Life: The Story of a Northwoods Resort Owner—to romance—A Line Between Friends—to stylized comedy—It’s Not Your Mother’s Bridge Club. With Irish Twins, Cozzens enters new territory, presenting a touching story that includes humor, whimsy, and elements of magical realism.

This is a novel that will stick with you. I don’t think I’ll ever drink a cup of tea without remembering these four women. Thank you, Ms. Cozzens, for a really great story!