Saturday, December 3, 2011

Her Sister's Shadow

Author: Katharine Britton
ISBN: 978--0-425-24174-5
Publisher: Penguin
Source: TLC Book Tours
Follow the Tour Stops
Rating: Highly Recommended

About the Book:

Lilli Niles is at home in her North London flat when she receives an unexpected call.  her elder sister, Bea--at the family homestead in White Head, Massachusetts has just lost her husband, and she wants Lilli to fly home for the funeral.

Lilli, a painter, is preparing for her latest gallery opening.  And more to the point, there are reasons she moved all the way to England to escape her older sister, reasons that have kept them estranged for decades.

But something in Bea's voice makes Lilli think it's time to return to New England, to the stately house she loved as a child, to the memory of a shared loss-- and to a time when simple sisterhood was enough to overcome betrayal and resentment.  In this emotional debut, Katharine Britton explores the divergent paths we take in life--and the road that ultimately brings us back to each other.

My Thoughts:

The book opens quickly with Bea's call to Lilli regarding her husband's death.  From this point on, it is clear Bea and Lilli are estranged though the reasons are not revealed until later.  I instantly found myself enthralled with their shared secret.  The tension between the two is evident, yet I didn't know why it was there.  I wanted to find out what happened to make these two sisters become so far apart, though their love for each other is obvious, their dislike and discomfort is even more so. 

The author uses the family home as a resting place for memories, secrets and past that will be revealed.  I enjoyed this element of the book.  I have vivid memories of my past that take place in my childhood homes.  While I may not remember much about some memories, there are others where I can still visualize everything about the room I was in.  It's as if your transported back in time.  Lilli's connection to her childhood home reminded me of these moments.  I also loved how the author uses the relationship of sisterhood between Lilli and Bea, as well as their other siblings, Charlotte and Dori.

The novel is written using the present and reflecting on the past, switching between the two.  I am personally a fan of this set up in novels, so I enjoyed reading both sides of the story.  I felt I was given a well rounded look at the events and characters since I was introduced to them as a grown woman and a teenage girl.  In the present,  The sisters are old enough to have knee problems, aches, pains and grown children in the present which enables the story to have a deeply rooted past.  Since the hurt, loneliness, loss, and love run so deep, the story is emotional and spellbinding.  It holds you captive as you watch the scenes unfold and secrets spill out.  I found myself emotionally connected to the characters in a variety as their story unfolded. 

Katharine Britton is a talented debut author.  I enjoyed her writing style.  This novel was easy to read, captivating and paced well.  While I didn't speed through the pages, I didn't find myself bored either.  The pace is thoughtful and deliberate.  I would highly recommend this book to others.  Based off it, I would also read more from Katharine Britton.

About the Author:

Katharine Britton has a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College.  She teaches at Colby-Sawyer College, and at The Writer’s Center.  Her screenplay, Goodbye Don’t Mean Gone, was a Moondance Film Festival winner and a finalist in the New England Women in Film and Television contest. Katharine is a member of the League of Vermont Writers.

When not at her desk, Katharine can be found at her Norwich garden, waging a non-toxic war against the slugs, snails, deer, woodchucks, chipmunks, moles, voles and beetles with whom she shares her yard.  Katharine's defense consists mainly of hand-wringing, after the fact.

Connect with Katharine online at her website,, her blog, and on Facebook.
Highly Recommended

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