We are heading back to the 1940's today. It is with the greatest of pleasures that I introduce you to Clare Flynn and and her exceptionally great novel, Sisters at War.
Sisters at War
By Clare Flynn
I will begin yet another review by saying, oh my goodness, the cover is beautiful. I barely skimmed the blurb, agreeing to read this book because of the image I was presented with, and I must say, I do not regret this decision even the smallest bit.
Hannah Kidd is married to Will, who spends the majority of this book away at sea. He is a merchant seaman, and working on a ship is his contribution to the war effort. No matter how much Hannah may worry about him when he’s not there, it seems that finding a job on land is out of the question.
The household Hannah is in is a bit of a motley crew. The owner of the house is Sam, whom she was briefly illegally married to after their fathers forced together the union. When Hannah and Judith’s father, an abusive man who preached religion to get his own way, killed their mother, Sam took Hannah and Judith in, giving them a place to stay. Although deep down a caring, lonely woman, the fourth inhabitant, Nance, takes Hannah for granted, sitting back and letting Hannah do all the housework, and cook the meals. And then there is Will, who, although isn’t home much, completes the mismatched family.
I adored Will and Hannah. They are such a beautiful couple, and it was utterly heartbreaking when Will kept leaving for sea, and Hannah would watch the telegraph boy out the window, breathing a sigh of relief when he would continue past her house without stopping. Hannah is the most selfless person imaginable, and continuously gives up things for other people, namely her sister and Nance. I didn’t like Nance all that much, she put herself first and was extremely tactless about every situation anyone else found themselves in. I couldn’t quite make my mind up about Hannah’s sister, Judith. While she has had a very traumatic childhood, and the events of this story only add to that trauma, Hannah has suffered through almost exactly the same, and yet she is expected to keep going while Judith shuts down, making her sister take over. I understand that such a scenario was likely to make Judith react so, but she is so selfish towards Hannah that I had a hard time liking her.
If you have read this book, (if not, you need to!) you are aware about the scene I am about to talk about. I was sat with my hand over my mouth, not wanting to read on for fear of what would happen, but also need to continue because I needed to know what would happen. My husband happened to walk into the room at this moment, as I was sat, curled up on the sofa under a blanket, with tears streaming down my face. At first, he thought something was wrong in real life, but when he noticed my ereader, he sighed, rolling his eyes, and mumbled something along the lines of ‘why read it if it upsets you’ as he left the room again. He did return and bring me a cup of tea, but he does not, and could not, understand the emotional turmoil of this book.
I am a firm believer that if a book has the ability to make you cry, it is a good book. If I read a bad book, I’m likely just to put it down and not show any emotional response to it, other than disgust at the waste of my time it was. This was a good book. In fact, it was more than that. It was beautiful, tragic, heartbreaking – it can cause laughter and sobbing, potentially at the same time.
If you don’t have this book, and/or haven’t read it – what are you waiting for? Did you even read my review? Go and buy it right now!
Clare Flynn is the author of thirteen historical novels and a collection of short stories. A former International Marketing Director and strategic management consultant, she is now a full-time writer.
Having lived and worked in London, Paris, Brussels, Milan and Sydney, home is now on the coast, in Sussex, England, where she can watch the sea from her windows. An avid traveler, her books are often set in exotic locations.
Clare is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of The Society of Authors, ALLi, and the Romantic Novelists Association. When not writing, she loves to read, quilt, paint and play the piano.