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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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  • Will capture your heart

    Suzanne Goldring has a way of pulling you into her stories . The Shut-Away Sisters is no exception. The book is told in dual time line: World War 1 with sisters Florrie and Edith and 1999 with their great niece Kate. There are secrets, hardship, determination and love all rolled into one book. I thoroughly enjoyed the story of the sisters and was cheering on Kate to figure out what is in that locked room at her great aunt's house. I will think of the sisters of often and the sacrifice that Florrie made to keep their secret.

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  • My Sister's Secret

    A country at war, a family trying to hold it together through, bombs falling, rationing, and the Spanish Flu. Fifteen year old Florrie is faced with one family tragedy after another. She faces challenges no fifteen year old should faced and ultimately must give up her chance at happiness to save her sister and keep a secret that can never be told. Many years later, Florrie's great niece, Kate, reeling from a broken romance is asked by her father to sort out the home that Florrie and Edith lived in for so many years. She is intrigued to find out about her reclusive Aunts as she sorts through the home. A mysterious trunk, a locked door and what lies behind tell her of a family secret which must never be revealed. The war took its toll on those who lived through it. People were changed by it in many ways. Young people grew up fast, education was put on hold and families struggled to survive in some very troubling times. Almost everyone was touched by the war in one way or another. This story is of one family trying to cope with the heartbreaking tragedies brought by war. It is also the story of a young woman facing a personal life change and looking for a direction for her future. In finding out about her families past she finds the courage to rebuild her life and face the future. I enjoyed reading this book and was inspired by the courage of the character of Florrie. It gave me a deeper understanding of some of the challenges faced by those living through those times . Thanks to Suzanne Goldring, Bookouture, and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of the book in return for my honest review.

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  • An Emotionally Engaging Read

    The Shut Away Sisters is the story of two sisters, Florence and Edith Henderson, told through journals discovered by their great-niece, Kate, in 1999, after the death of the last remaining sister at the age of 96. When her long term relationship breaks down, Kate takes up residence in the great Victorian house where the sisters had lived all their lives. In a locked room Kate discovers journals written by her aunt, beginning in 1915 and ending in 1924. They describe Florrie's home life during World War I and its aftermath, including the Spanish flu pandemic, and reveal a traumatic event that sees Florrie abandon the life she would have had to remain in the family home. Reading the journals takes Kate back to the day her own dreams were shattered, from which point the story alternates between two time lines as Kate uncovers what happened to the sisters while discovering what is important in her own life. Edith, older than Florrie by six years, spends her days writing poetry and letters to Frank, the man she hopes to marry. When no correspondence arrives from Frank, who is away fighting in France, Edith's anxiety about his welfare and whereabouts increases to the point where it becomes an obsession. She shuts herself away in her room, only leaving it to take meals with the family or a daily trip to the town hall to check the casualty lists. Edith's mental state is largely ignored by their parents, who do not make the same demands of her as they do of Florrie, often allowing her selfish, sullen and rude behaviour to go unchecked. Although she loves her sister and is troubled by the person she has become, the dutiful and resilient Florrie feels resentful. She cannot understand why her sister shouldn't contribute to the running of the household or make use of the secretarial and bookkeeping training she had done so well at. Surely becoming more involved in the world around her would take her mind off Frank. As the soldiers slowly return from the war, a change comes over Edith. She reverts to the joyful person she was before Frank went away. While Florrie is glad to see her sister restored, she is also alarmed when she discovers the reason behind Edith's new found happiness and is totally unprepared for what happens next. What I liked most about this novel was the portrayal of family life during the war. I found this much more interesting than Kate's 20th century woes. So, I did favour the historical over the modern part. I also liked Florrie who lived up to her resilient and dutiful nature, but also proved herself loyal and unselfish. Edith was a tragic character. I can't say I liked her that much, but I did feel sorry for her. There was one aspect of the novel that I found incongruous. This happened at the beginning and didn't fit with the overall tone of the novel. It wasn't enough to stop me reading and enjoying what was otherwise a compelling story, but it did make me wonder what type of novel I was about to read. Overall, I found The Shut Away Sisters an emotionally engaging and satisfying read.

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  • Two Loving Sisters.

    This was a heartfelt story set in two eras. Ironically I am reading whilst in a lockdown because of covid19, and the book touches on the Spanish flu. It is a very relaxing read and one that will take you into the lives of two loving sisters.

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  • The Great War

    The Great War and the social stature of women during that time is revealed succinctly in this historical story, which exemplifies how far we've come as women. The miasma that young women endured waiting home for their men to return in an era where communication was difficult, and as we see with Edith, she was stuck in that eternal fog of waiting, with enduring hope and the inability to face reality. I loved the characters, the dynamic of the social structure with the family and the way Goldring portrayed these times. Definitely worth reading for a different look at "romance".

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