Two ordinary sisters. A long and brutal war. A heroic sacrifice…
London, 1915. As German bombs rain down on the East End of London and hungry children queue for rations in the blistering cold, fifteen-year-old Florrie is forced to grow up fast. With her father fighting in the muddy trenches, Florrie turns to her older sister Edith for comfort. But the war has changed Edith. She has grown quiet, with dark shadows under her eyes, and has started leaving the house at night in secret. When Florrie follows her sister through the dark and winding streets of London, she is shocked by what she discovers. But she knows she must keep her sister’s secret for the sake of their family, even if she herself must pay the ultimate price…
Years later Kate, running from her broken relationship, is sorting through her dead aunt Florrie’s house, which she shared with her sister Edith. As she sits on the threadbare carpets, looking at photos of Florrie during the war, she notices the change in her aunt – from carefree young girl with a hopeful smile to a hollow-cheeked young woman, with dark sad eyes.
Determined to put her family’s ghosts to rest, Kate must unearth the secret past of her two aunts. Why is there a hidden locked room in the little house they shared? What is the story behind the abandoned wedding dress wrapped in tissue and tied up with a ribbon? And when Kate discovers the tragic secrets that have bound her family together, will she ever be able to move on?
A heartbreaking historical novel of war, tragedy and the sacrifices we make for those we love. Fans of Fiona Valpy, Kristin Hannah and Victoria Hislop will be hooked by The Shut-Away Sisters.
This story is told through a dual timeline, alternating between WW1 and the present day and follows the life story of sisters Florrie and Edith. Their lives are forever changed after everything that took place throughout the war, and with their father being away from home fighting on the front line, they are struggling to get their lives back on track.
When Edith starts sneaking out of the house late at night when she believes everyone to be asleep, Florrie decides to follow her one night to discover where her sister is going. But when Florrie does uncover the place – and the reasons – that her sister keeps disappearing to late at night, she finds herself having to keep the secret to herself, for the safety of those she loves most in the world.
Then we jump to the present day where we meet Kate who is currently sorting through the house that her Aunts Edith and Florrie shared. When Kate comes across a locked door, she cant ignore the curiosity that it evokes within her, and when she then finds the beautiful wedding dress wrapped in tissue paper that is secured with ribbon she finds herself embarking on an emotional journey to gather answers to this mystery.
As Kate begins to unravel the truth that surrounds her families past she finds that life, as she now knows it – will never be the same again.
This is certainly a captivating story that really tugs on your heart string as you immerse yourself into the world of Edith and Florrie. They are both strong headed characters that have lived through a terrible time, and they have certainly not come out of it all unscathed. As we learn more about them both you really start to feel the bond these sisters share, and in turn, feel connected to them on a much deeper level.
Kate is an equally fascinating character. I loved how invested she became in learning more about her family and everything they had lived through over the years and experiencing this heart breaking story from her perspective really gave you a much clearer insight as to the events that took place.
This is a truly wonderful read that had me hooked from the start. The dual timeline within the story is executed beautifully as each of the characters are given their own unique voice that leaps from the pages of this book.
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About the Author
Following an eventful career as a public relations consultant, specialising in business and travel, Suzanne Goldring turned to writing the kind of novels she likes to read, about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. Whether she is working in her thatched cottage in Hampshire or her seaside home in North Cornwall, Suzanne finds inspiration in the secrets hidden by everyday life.
*Thank you to Sarah Hardy at Bookouture and Suzanne Goldring for providing me with a gifted copy of this book in return for my honest review. All thoughts are entirely my own and not influenced in any way.*