The Orphan Sisters by Shirley Dickson is a marvellous historical novel beginning in the late 1920’s but mainly set during World War II. It is a fabulous debut novel and I cannot wait to read more by Shirley Dickson.
The novel concerns the beautiful, unbreakable bond between two sisters abandoned in an orphanage by their mother. In their own way, each looks out for the other. They both seek to protect in their own unique ways.
Set in Northumberland the reader sees the area is not immune to Luftwaffe bombing raids. Due to comprehensive descriptions, we are able to ‘see’ the devastation and ‘feel’ the fear.
There is an eclectic mix of characters as we are treated to the camaraderie of friends – the philandering of some and the steadfastness of others. Brushes with near death cause some to take their eyes off the ball.
The orphanage of the sisters’ childhood was a terrible place to be. I found it reminiscent of Oliver Twist and Lowood in Jane Eyre. Love was in short supply.
We see the stigma attached to unmarried mothers, and the lengths some will go to in order to disguise that fact. It is very sad.
There is the major theme of forgiveness running throughout. One character forgives. Another cannot but is destined to become bitter if forgiveness is withheld.
Ultimately this is a book about love and the bond between the sisters. It is beautiful to see and I absolutely adored the book.
I received a free copy via Net Galley. A favourable review was not required. All opinions are my own.