Identical twin sisters Freya and Shona take very different paths, leading to long-buried family secrets that reverberate through the generations in this thrilling novel of psychological suspense by the author of Tell Me How It Ends. There are some choices you can’t come back from.
This book has a dual timeline which I sometimes find frustrating, but I was delighted that it works very well with this story.
In a nutshell it is a story of discovery. Kirsty has never had a close relationship with her mother as she has always felt that her mother found difficulty in opening up emotionally and showing her real feelings. As we read the book we know why this is and it is the story of a heroine who was parachuted in to enemy territory in wartime and how she was helped by the Polish home army resistance movement, AK. The story involves twins whose lives are affected by the choices they make. There are romantic liaisons, complicated relationships, secrets, mystery and tragedy which keep the reader fully engaged in both time periods.
I found the author’s note at the end of the book spine tingling. When I read the inspiration behind the author’s novel I was fascinated by fact turning into fiction. This is a book which kept me gripped and I recommend it to you wholeheartedly.
Jen, Friends of Bookends
Kirsty is the daughter of Dr Freya Grant who unfortunately is dying from an inoperable brain tumour, leaving her totally unable to communicate in any form apart from a shake of the hand. After a visit one evening by a Polish man Tomasz, who is looking for a woman in a photograph, everything is torn apart for Freya and Kirsty. This photo which was taken during the Polish uprising, also has his mother in it. He has many questions that he would like answered and is sure that the other woman in the photo is Freya’s sister, who is an identical twin sister to Freya. But this photo was taken a long while ago, in Warsaw August 1944. Now it is 1989 and the main news now is the demolition of the Berlin Wall. This book is set in dual timelines and follows Freya’s story and that of her twin sister Shona in 1944 and in 1989 Freya’s daughter Kirsty, her husband Martin and their sons Chris and Eric. Martin wants to take up a new job offer in Australia, but Kirsty has lots of things on her mind, which all lead to one question, should they go or stay? Her mother has not much longer to live, but Martin wants to go so he can see his parents, Kirsty can see his point of view, but now she has another thing to solve, the question of the photo and the two women in it.
Back in 1944 Shona and Freya play the game that endless sets of twins must have played over the years of changing places and hoping that no one would notice, but this is wartime and great dangers rather than playtime fun exist around every corner. As the twins play their own individual roles that are sometimes dangerous, often they have moments together that only twins will share, we are treated to a great storyline, yes it is set in a dual timeline, but its easy to follow and keeps your attention throughout.
A tale of family secrets that span many years and have consequences even to this day and makes you understand why it is not always a good idea to hide these secrets as one day it just might be too late to do anything about them, as those we care about need to be told everything from the past and forget the secrets and guilt that goes with them. A lovely book, I especially enjoyed the wartime friendships and drama between Freya and Shona and those they worked and fought with during the dark times of WW2, and also the struggle that Kirsty had to face with her mother and her husband and sons.
Heather, Friends of Bookends
An onion tale of World War II, secrets, sisters and resistance, in several senses of the word. Layer by layer the truth is revealed. Multilayered truths between sisters and mothers and daughters, depicting how the effects of war continue to scar future generations. If that sounds bleak and unyielding the plot construction and strength of the narrative serve as a panacea for the harsh events that take place.
Our heroines, Shona and Freya, are identical twins, so alike it can be hard to tell them apart, but very different in character. There is a dual chronology between 1989, significant because it is the year the Berlin Wall fell and 1944 when the world was in the ravages of World War II. The twins are in their 20s, one is a doctor and the other has been recruited by the army’s Special Operations Executive.
What happens to them in these war years fuels the thrust for the rest of the novel. It would be a disservice to give too much away suffice to say that love plays a part, a very big part in the lives of all of the characters in this novel, male and female. But the nature of that love can vary on several levels from parental to patriotic.
The novel actually concludes in 1990 in a poignant ending pondering the nature of secrets and the breaking down of walls both physical and metaphysical. It’s a story full of excitement and tension in some of the war sequences balanced with some considerations regarding life and how we live it in other parts of the story. It’s a beautifully written book from an experienced writer.
Gill, Friends of Bookends
An intriguing and engrossing story.
It is a well known fact that there is a special bond between twins. Shona and Freya are identical twins navigating their way as best they can, as war and its effects makes life difficult for all.
Freya, a newly qualified doctor is working at an East End Hospital and Shona has been recruited by the Special Operations Executive ( SOE ). As many identical twins have done, they like to perform ‘ the trick’, fooling people into thinking one sister is the other but on one occasion this swap has far reaching consequences which affect the lives of both sisters and other people close to them.
Told in two timelines, 1944 and 1989, Freya has been diagnosed with a brain tumour which has rendered her unable to speak or write and is cared for by her daughter Kirsty. Kirsty and her mum have always had a strained relationship and Freya has always refused to speak about her past or discuss Kirsty’s aunt Shona. One evening as Kirsty is settling her mum for the evening, Kirsty opens the door to a stranger, a Polish man named Tomasz, who clutches an old photograph of two women. He explains that one woman is his mother and he says the other is Kirsty’s aunt Shona. The photograph was taken in 1944 and Tomasz is hoping to gain any information about those days from Freya, in order to locate or find out about his father.
This visit from Tomasz is the catalyst which lays open the untold secrets of the past and changes the relationship between Freya and her daughter as unexplained circumstances are at last understood.
Having previously read V.B. Grey’s Tell Me How It Ends, I knew I was in for a good read and was not disappointed. This is a beautifully written story.
Anne, Friends of Bookends
Sisterhood is a beautifully crafted story about identical twins and how their lives are affected by the events of the second world war. Freya and Shona despite looking alike have very different characters. Freya, the more responsible one is a newly qualified doctor working in London while headstrong Shona has been recruited by the SOE but it’s Freya that ends up putting her life on the line during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. Move forward to 1989 and Freya, now unable to speak due to a brain tumour, can’t share the memories that witnessing the removal of the Berlin Wall has brought to the surface. When a stranger arrives on Freya’s doorstep trying to find information on an old photograph it’s up to her daughter, Kirsty, to discover the secrets that her family have kept for over 45 years and finally lay some of the demons to rest.
Although aspects of the characters lives can be heartbreaking at times, Sisterhood is not written in an overly sentimental fashion. It’s thought provoking and suspenseful but told in a very ‘real’ way and it’s not afraid to portray all the characters with their flaws exposed. It also shows how everyday people can become heroes in times of war. An absorbing story that will stay with you.
Karen, Friends of Bookends