EXCERPT: Mum shakes her head decisively in answer to my question: there’s nothing more for me to see. Frustrated, I try another tack.
‘It’s important to Tomasz, too. He barely remembers Gosia and never knew his father, but the man who gave him the photograph when he was a teenager, said that Shona knew his father.’
She looks at me with an expression that is not encouraging.
‘I said I’d ask if you could think of anyone he might talk to.’
She pointedly turns her head to look out at the wintry garden. I keep trying.
‘The man Tomasz spoke to at the Polish Hearth Club who remembered that you were a doctor also said that Shona had a Polish boyfriend. Is that true? Did you ever meet him?’
She stands up abruptly, walks past me out of the kitchen and into the living room, slamming the door behind her.
I’m shocked by the intensity of my reaction when she does this. I’m furious. Nothing ever changes. Even if Shona’s wartime mission had to be kept secret at the time, how can it hurt to talk about it now? Why can’t Mum be happy that I want to understand her sister’s past? But she’s never let me in, never shared her feelings or admitted any frailty. She’s kept me at arms length all her life and now she’s dying, and all she can do when I try to learn more about her is slam a door against me.
ABOUT ‘SISTERHOOD’: 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.
It is 1944 in war-battered London. Freya and Shona are identical twins, close despite their different characters. Freya is a newly qualified doctor treating the injured in an East End hospital, while Shona has been recruited by the SOE. The sisters are so physically alike that they can fool people into thinking that one is the other. It’s a game they’ve played since childhood. But when Shona persuades her twin to swap roles to meet her Polish lover, he is angered at being tricked.
Then Shona proposes a far more dangerous swapping of roles. At first Freya refuses but finally she agrees, with consequences that threaten not only the happiness but the lives of both sisters.
Forty-five years later in November 1989 Freya, now aged 69, is watching television with her daughter Kirsty. Freya is gripped as she witnesses crowds of Berliners attempting to knock down their hated Wall. This sight stirs memories of her own and her sister’s war, especially the tragedy of the Warsaw Uprising – memories that she has never shared with anyone. Even if she wanted to reveal them now, she can’t. She’s suffering from a brain tumour and is unable to speak although her reason is unimpaired. And this is what she’s thinking: if they succeed in knocking down the Wall, what secrets will come tumbling through? If her own were revealed, it would be devastating for all those close to her, especially her daughter, Kirsty.
MY THOUGHTS: I felt a personal connection with Kirsty, Freya’s daughter in this story. I know next to nothing about my mother’s life, and now it’s too late. I felt Kirsty’s anguish and frustration at constantly being pushed away.
But aside from touching me on a personal level, I enjoyed the mystery and intrigue of Sisterhood. The story is told over two timelines, from Kirsty’s point of view in 1989 as the Berlin Wall is demolished, and a stranger arrives with a photo looking for her mother Freya’s identical twin sister, Shona, who had been recruited by the SOE; and in 1944 from Freya’s point of view.
But it’s not just her mother’s ill health, and the mystery surrounding her aunt that Kirsty has to contend with. Her Australian husband Martin has been offered his dream job – in Australia.
I started to read this over my morning coffee, intending to read just a chapter or two to get a feel for the story. Instead, I read until I was finished. Yes, a one sitting read that intrigued me from the outset; one that never let me go. This is a multi-generational storyline which starts with Freya and Shona, and moves on encompass Freya’s daughter Kirsty and her family. The plot progresses at a steady pace, and is full of mystery, intrigue, and drama.
Strongly recommended for lovers of historical fiction and family dramas/mysteries.
T: @IsabelleGrey @QuercusBooks
#familydrama #historicalfiction #mentalhealth #mystery #WWII
THE AUTHOR: I grew up in Manchester, England, and have an English degree from Cambridge. My first job was with a London antique dealer and I spent many years as a freelance journalist and non-fiction author (as Isabelle Anscombe) writing initially about the fascinating world of the art market and the history of decorative arts before going on to contribute features and reviews to national newspapers and magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Country Living and Psychologies. I have also written for film, television and radio drama.
I live and work in north London.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Quercus via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Sisterhood by V.B. Grey. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
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