Darling Rex, funny, playful, excellent company, and so debonair in his sharply cut suits, hand-made shirts, and silk ties, was the character who took the longest to create. Over the years of slowly developing Sole Brethren, Rex has been Cordelia’s sassy female sister Epiphany; a saucy drag queen called Zenobia, no relation to Cordelia; and finally, and best of all, the person he is now, Rex Tanner, Cordelia’s younger twin brother by ten minutes.
In the way Rex operates, with his disciplined mathematician’s brain, fastidious and organised to the point of obsession, he could not be more different to Cordelia with her expansive creative imagination and relaxed way of living. He is a supportive character, always reliable, hard-working, content to be in the background as Cordelia shines in public. As a feminist, his male ego is never jealous of her glory and recognition.
We don’t know much about Rex’s private life, that is because the story’s activity revolves around Cordelia, and the House of Tanner orbit. His home, an elegant 18th century townhouse, is in Spitalfields, just east of the City (London’s financial district) and that’s where his regular card club meets. What the novel does not reveal, but you know is that Rex’s orchestra conducting lessons take place in a deconsecrated church near Old Street which is now a centre for classical music related activities, and in his spare time at the weekend, he gives free tuition to children from the local primary school who struggle with maths. Outside of work he has a busy social life with many friends, including his childhood pal William, the current Magician Master at the Magic League whose cards tricks are mind-boggling.
My initial intention was for Rex to be the complete opposite to Cordelia in his personality and way of interacting with people, rather brittle, sometimes remote, and often stand offish. Then he met Elodie, and his reaction to her made me rethink his personality. He changed to become a big warm softy who is not shy in showing his emotions to the people he loves.
Cordelia’s life would be diminished without Rex, and it would be the same for him if he did not have her. I like the fact that the two other people closest to Cordelia, Oscar and Elodie, adore Rex as a person in his own right and do not feel obliged to love him just because he is Cordelia’s twin. And of course, that arbiter of good character, Blanche, with her unfailing instinct, loves him unconditionally, not least because he always has a dog treat in his bag, and gives her the best eyebrow massages.
I am eagerly developing the sequel to Sole Brethren: If The Shoe Fits. The title is Sole Brethren: Left To Their Own Devices. I have no idea when it will be finished and published. If you are interested in receiving updates on the progress of ‘Left To Their Own Devices’ please subscribe to my occasional newsletter by clicking here. Thank you.
B.A. Summer (pen name of Jane Peyton), Brighton, UK