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.

Summer Winners…

Out of 32 entrants, the three winners of Chevy Stevens’ next book, Never Knowing, are:

Jessica of Jess Resides Here, who said, “Omg Still Missing was my fav book last year. Talk about a debut I am a fan for life now.”

Margie, who said, “Moonglass by Jessi Kirby and Hourglass by Myra McEntire have caught my eye, partly from reviews and partly from the lovely covers. I haven’t read either of them yet though.”

Uncle Sid of Dward Media, who said, “Still Missing – one of the best reads for me this past year. Looking forward to the new one.”

Out of 10 entrants, the winner of Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard by Belinda Roberts is:

Taffy, who said, “I Loved the series by Pamela Aiden! Well, the 1st & 3rd books were the best.”


Out of 16 entrants, the winner of Vlad: The Last Confession by C.C. Humphreys is:

Mary, who said, “RASPUTIN has always fascinated me. Such a dark figure in history during a dark time in Russia.”

The winner of The Mongoose Deception by Dr. Robert Greer is LuAnn of Reading Frenzy, who said, “It’s hard to pick just one favorite mystery writer, but I’d have to say two of the ones I really enjoy are David Baldacci and Erin Healy.”


Out of 14 entrants, the winner of Her Sister’s Shadow by Katharine Britton is Beth Hoffman, who said, “I’ve always enjoyed stories about sisters. There are so many I’ve read, but The Geometry of Sisters by Luanne Rice is one of my favorites.”

Mailbox Monday #133

First, Happy 4th of July, everyone! I hope that you are celebrating our nation’s independence and are having fun doing it. Whether you are spending a quiet day at home with loved ones, journeying to see family, or traveling to a fireworks display, it’s good to remember what we fought for and continue to fight for through elections and protests. I also want everyone to take a moment to think about our soldiers who are not home with their families and to wish them well and send our support to them for their sacrifices.

I’m not sure what we’ll be doing this 4th of July, but whatever it is, I’m sure we’ll just be happy to spend time with Wiggles and relax.

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon at the right to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch.  This month our host is A Sea of Books.  Kristi of The Story Siren continues to sponsor her In My Mailbox meme.  Both of these memes allow bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received this week:

1.  Her Sister's Shadow by Katharine Britton for review from Penguin.

2.  Curses and Wishes by Carl Adamshick from the American Academy of Poets.

3.  Flies by Michael Dickman from the American Academy of Poets.

4. Bitter Bitch by Marie Sveland, translated by Katarina E. Tucker from Skyhorse Publishing for review in September.

5. The Book of Lies by Mary Horlock for an August TLC Book Tour.

6. The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon on audio from Dawn of She Is Too Fond of Books, read by Kate Reading; Thanks, Dawn.

7. Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg, which I purchased from Borders online with my coupon; thanks to Florinda for a great review.

8. Rescue by Anita Shreve, which I’ve wanted to read since it came out and I also got from Borders.

What did you receive in your mailbox?

Giveaway: Her Sister’s Shadow by Katharine Britton

Her Sister’s Shadow by Katharine Britton, published this month, combines two of my favorite things in a story:  Massachusetts and relationships between sisters.  And it’s from a debut author.  According to the synopsis for the book:

“Renowned painter Lilli Niles is at home in her North London flat when she receives an unexpected call from her elder sister, Bea, who’s at the family homestead in Whitehead, Massachusetts. Bea’s husband has just died, and she’d like Lilli to fly home to attend the funeral. There are reasons Lilli moved all the way to England to escape her older sister, reasons that have kept them estranged for decades. But something in Bea’s voice makes Lilli think it’s time to return to the stately house in New England she loved as a child, to the memory of the beloved younger sister they both lost. With Bea more fragile than Lilli remembered, maybe she can finally forgive Bea for a long-ago betrayal that has simmered between them for nearly forty years.”

Why did Lilli Niles move to London away from her childhood home and her older sister?  What was the nature of the betrayal that separated these sisters for forty years?

Publisher’s weekly says, “Britton seamless alternates between the two eras to unravel a tale of rivalry, tragedy, love and the corruptibility of truth.”

If you are as interested in this book as I am, I have a US/Canada giveaway in which 1 lucky reader will receive a copy of this novel to read.  To enter:

1.  Leave a comment here on what story about sisters you enjoyed most.

2.  Spread the word on Twitter, Facebook, Etc. about the giveaway for a second entry.

Deadline is at July 7, 2011, at 11:59PM EST.