Her Sister’s Shadow by Katharine Britton

Her Sister’s Shadow by Katharine Britton is aptly titled given that Lilli Niles has always felt like she is living in the shadow of her “perfect” sister Bea.  Bea takes on a guardianship role when Lilli is about 15 after their father dies and their mother loses touch with reality.  Lilli resents her “perfect” sister’s hold over the family and is even more angry about how Bea lords it over her when she wins crew races and is considered perfect by her mother.  Couple all of that resentment with hormones of adolescence and you can imagine the volatility.

Told in alternating chapters between the past and the present when Lilli returns to White Head, Mass., after 30 years when her sister Bea calls and needs her, Her Sister’s Shadow vividly tells a story of healing after a significant rift between sisters.  Readers will feel the angst of a young Lilli who has just discovered boys and wants to grow up more quickly and the awkwardness of Lilli and Bea who attempt to reconnect after 30 years.

“When she was a girl, after the accident, she would go down onto the rocks, pick her way carefully along their slick surface, and shout her grief and guilt into the deep bass notes of that foghorn.  Her kitchen, all stillness in pools of white light, offered no such camouflage.”  (page 4)

Britton creates characters that are real, flawed, and seeking redemption through their actions even if they are unaware of it.  While Lilli’s relationship with Bea is strained, her relationship with Dori, her younger sister, is sweet and unbreakable.  Lilli’s relationship with Charlotte is more like a mother-daughter dynamic in which Charlotte is a caretaker and empathetic.  There is a great deal at work in these female relationships; their complexity is stunning and palpable.  Each sister is drawn realistically, causing readers to become attached to each one.  It is through this relationship with the reader, that Britton tugs tears out and causes wistful smiles to curl.

Bea’s shadow is not the only one looming over this book.  Britton has crafted a devastating novel through which readers and characters must journey to reach out of the fog and into the light.  Her Sister’s Shadow has a gorgeous setting steeped in coastal imagery that mirrors the churning ocean waves of these relationships which every so often smooth out to reflect the stars and beauty of calm.

About the Author:

Katharine Britton has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College. Her screenplay, Goodbye Don’t Mean Gone, was a Moondance Film Festival winner and a finalist in the New England Women in Film and Television contest. Katharine is a member of the League of Vermont Writers and PEN New England. She teaches writing at Colby-Sawyer College, and is an instructor at The Writer’s Center.

When not at her desk, Katharine can often be found in her Norwich garden, waging a non-toxic war against the slugs, snails, deer, woodchucks, chipmunks, moles, voles, and beetles with whom she shares her yard. Katharine’s defense consists mainly of hand-wringing, after-the-fact.

Please follow her blog and Facebook.

To Enter for 1 copy of Her Sister’s Shadow by Katharine Britton: (US/Canada only):

1.  Leave a comment about what kind of relationship you have with your sister or whether you would enjoy having a sister if you don’t have one.

2.  Follow Katharine Britton on Facebook and leave a comment for another entry telling me you did so.

3.  Facebook, Tweet, or Blog about the giveaway and leave a comment with each for up to three more entries.

Deadline Oct. 28, 2011, at 11:59PM EST


To visit the other stops on the TLC Book Tour, click on the icon at the right.


This is my 62nd book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.


  1. I love the comparison between the tumultuous weather of coastline and often tumultuous relationship between sisters – how true!

    Thanks for being on the tour Serena.

    • Thanks Heather for stopping by to check out the review. I don’t have a sister that I know well. I have one half-sister, and that relationship has been tumultuous to nonexistent!

  2. My sister’s Joi and Dorothy mean everything to me.
    We live in different cities and provinces, however, when we speak it is
    like we are sitting side by side.

  3. Katharine Britton says

    Nancy, I hope you get to read my book as those sisters have a somewhat strained relationship as well.

    Thanks to everyone for entering the giveaway.

  4. Nancye Davis says

    I Tweeted!


    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  5. Nancye Davis says

    I follow Katharine Britton on Facebook
    FB ID: Nancye Epperson Davis

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  6. Nancye Davis says

    Unfortunately, my sister and I have a very strained and superficial relationship. However, my best friend (of over 30 years) is my true sister! She is there for me thru thick and thin, and vice versa. I am blessed!

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  7. I shared review/giveaway on Twitter. https://twitter.com/#!/ItsTimeMamaw/status/127913255174815744

    plb1050 at gmail dot com

  8. Shared the Review/Giveaway on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/Its.About.Time.Mamaw

    plb1050 at gmail dot com

  9. I am following Katherine on Facebook.

    plb1050 at gmail dot com

  10. I have two sisters the oldest one is in a different state and the youngest is about an hour from me. I am in the middle. I guess I have a closer relationship with my youngest sister. She was there for me during my pregnancies and we were together planning through our mother’s cancer and death. Then we got even closer when our Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, getting him in a facility for Alzheimer’s patients and eventual his death.

    plb1050 at gmail dot com

  11. Blogged:

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

  12. I follow Katharine Britton on Facebook: Heather H J

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

  13. I don’t have an official sister, but do have a little sister that has been raised by my father since she was a little girl, even if never legally adopted. I consider her my sister, but I barely know her. I’m over 20 years older than her, and have only seen her a couple of times over the last 15 years.

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

  14. Carol Wong says

    I posted this giveaway on my Facebook page:



  15. Carol Wong says

    http://t.co/9vOpdPaw I tweeted.


  16. Carol Wong says

    I follow Katharine Britton on Facebook .


  17. Carol Wong says

    I was the oldest in my family and always wanted a sister. My mother had three sons after me and then gave up! I had girl friends when I was a kid but I thought it would have been so nice to have a sister to talk any time.


  18. I didn’t fully read your review as I’ll be reviewing this one soon. I just skimmed a bit for your general thoughts. I’m looking forward to this one. No need to enter me.

  19. liked Katharine on Facebook

  20. I don’t have a sister, but I have a few friends that are probably as close as sisters. I would like to have an actual sister though. Thanks for the giveaway.

  21. My sister is my best friend.

  22. Katharine Britton says

    Thanks, Serena, for such a thoughtful and detailed review. (You picked one of my favorite quotes!) Best wishes to all, Katharine

  23. No need to enter me, but I will put this in my sidebar.

    Sounds like an emotional story about sisters. There’s always so much drama in those relationships. 😉 Glad you enjoyed it!

  24. Sorry, I forgot to leave my email address for the giveaway. Thanks for the review and giveaway.


  25. I love reading books about family relationships especially ones that involve sisters. I have two sisters and can relate to some of the feelings that seem to come out in this novel. One sister I am very close to and one, well let’s just say she is the one on the pedestal looking down on us. I will put this on my wish list. I agree with Julie, a beautiful review for a beautiful book.

  26. I love to read about women’s relationships, especially when they’re sisters, so this sounds like a book I would love too. No need to enter me.

  27. Beautiful review for what sounds like a beautiful book. I have this one already and I’m moving it up on the pile!