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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 turns in the road that ultimately bring us back to each other.
ABOUT KATHARINE BRITTON
Katharine Britton teaches at Colby-Sawyer College in central New Hampshire. She has written three screenplays, one of which is a Moondance International Film Festival winner. She has a master's degree in creative writing from Dartmouth College and lives in Vermont.
Posted July 6, 2011
Review by Judy:Her Sister's Shadow, Katharine Britton's debut novel, will strike a familiar chord in the hearts of readers who have struggled through life hiding family secrets and nursing grudges and resentments that should have been put to rest years earlier.
Lillie Niles, third of four daughters of a widowed mother who cannot deal with the realities of her life, shakes the dust of White Harbor from her feet but not from her mind. Unable to view Bea, her oldest sister, as anything but controlling, she considers Bea's marriage to the man she (Lillie) adores to be the final betrayal.
Guilt stemming from her own act of betrayal, as well as shattering tragedies for which she feels somehow responsible, sends Lillie spiraling upward to the pinnacle of lonely success. Forty years later, when a now-widowed Bea asks her to come home, Lillie makes a reluctant pilgrimage to a place where happy memories were too soon overshadowed by dark ones.
Ms. Britton has woven past and present into a seamless study of the human heart and its resilience in finding hope where none existed, understanding where a tangled web of lies prevailed, and strength to rebuild despite a determination not to do so.
5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 4, 2013
This is a great book. It started a bit slow for me but soon I was pulled into the story and engrossed in the family mystery fairly quickly. It was obvious that there was a great deal of tension and hostility between Lilli and Bea and I was anxious to find out about the cause. The chapters go back and forth in time and the story is “revealed” masterfully. It is not fast paced but it is definitely a riveting tale. I found that not everything was as obvious as I had assumed.
The characters in the book are wonderfully complex. It is told mainly from Lilli’s point of view but the author gives us tiny glimpses of the other sisters thoughts at key points. Their relationships are realistic and just as complex as the characters themselves. Their diversity added plenty of depth to the story.
I would recommend this book highly. It is a meaningful look at family dynamics and the unique bond of sisters. The ending is surprising and satisfying. You will not be disappointed in the time invested in reading this book. Fantastic debut. I will look forward to reading more from Ms. Britton.
Posted February 18, 2012
Her Sister’s Shadow is a lovely read. Britton’s prose felt effortless, the setting like an extra character, and the people so real I could almost feel them breathe. Bravo. The story delves deep into the sisters’ motivations and emotions and delivers a sense of truth and satisfaction to the reader. Britton’s debut has set the bar high. I look forward to her next book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 10, 2011
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