When We Were Sisters by Cynthia Ellingsen

Two sisters who haven’t spoken for twenty years. One summer to bring a family back together.

Jayne Winters hasn’t seen her sister Charlotte since that last childhood holiday at their grandmother’s North Carolina beach house. Separated after that summer by their parents in a bitter divorce, Charlotte has never forgiven Jayne for not fighting to stay together.

So when Jayne discovers that they have both inherited the beach house, and that their grandmother’s last wish was for them to renovate it together, it feels like a miracle: one last chance to win her sister back.

At first Charlotte will barely speak to her. But slowly the memories of swimming races and storytelling in their attic bedroom looking over the sea start to break down the wall between them. With the help of photographs and letters left by their grandmother for them to find, the two women begin to restore not just the creaking mahogany staircase and the faded antique wallpaper, but their own relationship.

But then Jayne discovers that Charlotte has kept a heart-stopping secret from their past from her. Can she find it in her heart to forgive her sister and keep their grandmother’s dream of reuniting them alive—or are some wounds too big to heal?

An emotional and uplifting read about sisters, secrets and the family bonds that hold us together no matter how complicated they are, from the bestselling author of The Lighthouse Keeper. Fans of Mary Ellen Taylor, Elin Hilderbrand and Mary Alice Monroe will love this.

My Thoughts


Charlotte and Jayne have lived their lives without one another after being separated when they were children. Both of them have always assumed it was the other sibling not wanting any contact with them, and have even blamed their parents for their separation.

Twenty one years later they are forced together once again following the passing of their Grandmother, who has left them an inheritance – but it comes with a catch. The sisters must come together and learn the truth behind their separation and put any lingering anger and uncertainty towards one another to rest once and for all.

Their Grandmother remains very much alive throughout this story in the form of letters, providing some comfort to both Charlotte and Jayne as they try to repair their relationship with one another. It is whilst being brought back to the beach house that their grandmother once loved dearly that they can finally put the past to rest, and although their relationship is strenuous at first, they slowly begin to open up to one another and reveal secrets that they have harboured for most of their lives.

This was such a powerful and incredibly moving story that I found myself immersed in from the opening page. Both Charlotte and Jayne have their own voices, both of which are very different as they have experienced life differently throughout the time they have been separated and that has ultimately shaped them into the people they are today. The storyline itself is so wonderfully plotted out and flows beautifully, really allowing you to get a true sense of what these people have lived through over the years. I truly enjoyed this book.

You can purchase a copy of this book by following the links below

Amazon: https://bit.ly/3jiYOqh

Apple: https://apple.co/3whZSzg

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3hz3KrH

Google: https://bit.ly/3lqt6Kl

About the Author

Cynthia Ellingsen is an Amazon Charts bestselling author of contemporary women’s fiction. Her books feature heartwarming characters and strong family connections, often with a touch of mystery. The Starlight Cove series, her best-known work, is available on audio and has been translated into several languages.

Cynthia began her writing career as a screenwriter in Los Angeles and now lives in Kentucky with her family.





*Thank you to Sarah Hardy at Bookouture and Cynthia Ellingsen 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.*

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