Title: Her Sister’s Shadow
Author: Katharine Britton
Release Date: June 7, 2011
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
When Lilli Niles receives word that her estranged sister’s husband has passed away, she reluctantly returns to her family home in Massachusetts. There’s a good reason that Lilli has stayed away for so long, and going back home brings back painful memories of the summer that changed her and Bea’s relationship forever.
Her Sister’s Shadow is a novel about love and loss told in two different time frames - the present day, and a fateful summer years ago when Lilli was a teenager in love for the first time. At the beginning, the time shifts can seem a bit cumbersome because the story takes some time to develop. I kept waiting for the book to come back to the present, so I could get to know Lilli better and really understand who she is. Once the story really got going, though, I enjoyed both the time periods and thought the shifting was handled well.
Lilli was a sympathetic character, though frustrating at times, especially as a teenager. She’s clearly in the throes of adolescence, and while her moodiness is realistic, it’s not always the most pleasant trait in a character you’re supposed to feel for. Despite that, she was well fleshed out and fully realized. I appreciated how Lilli really came to life in front of me as I was reading.
Though I enjoyed Her Sister’s Shadow overall, I did have a major issue with it, and it’s difficult to discuss because it came at the end. Basically, the reader knows from the beginning that there is a secret, a reason Lilli left her home and never looked back. There’s a very good explanation for why Lilli has barely maintained a relationship with Bea, and of course, it all becomes clear at the end of the book. My problem was, while what Lilli went through was extremely difficult (and a bit predictable), I didn’t see any of it as being Bea’s fault. Of course Lilli would want to leave the place that held such painful memories, but Lilli blamed everything on Bea, and that seemed completely unjustified to me.
Still, Her Sister’s Shadow is an interesting look at the difficult relationship among sisters. These relationships are full of resentment and petty injustices, but also of love and trust and hope. Britton captures that dynamic very well in Her Sister’s Shadow, and anyone interested in reading about it should consider picking up this book.