Like many people, the story of the Titanic fascinates me. When I heard about this book which features three sisters and their connection to the three sister ships, Olympic, Titanic and Brittanic, I was eager to read it and I most certainly enjoyed it. First of all, here’s what the book is about.
From the back of the book
Three sisters. Three ships. One heartbreaking story.
1911. As Emma packs her trunk to join the ocean liner Olympic as a stewardess, she dreams of earning enough to provide a better life for both her sisters. With their photograph tucked away in her luggage, she promises to be back soon – hoping that sickly Lily will keep healthy, and wild Ruby will behave. But neither life at sea nor on land is predictable, and soon the three sisters’ lives are all changed irrevocably…
Now. When Harriet finds her late grandmother’s travelling trunk in the attic, she’s shocked to discover a photo of three sisters inside – her grandmother only ever mentioned one sister, who died tragically young. Who is the other sister, and what happened to her? Harriet’s questions lead her to the story of three sister ships, Olympic, Titanic and Britannic, and a shattering revelation about three sisters torn apart…
As I said above, I’m quite fascinated by anything to do with the Titanic and was aware that there were two other White Star liners, her sister ships the Olympic and Britannic. With this book also being about three sisters, my interest was piqued as I wondered if they would suffer the similar fates as the ships – my lips are sealed on that of course! This is also a dual timeline story and the part set in the present featuring Harriet had some parallels to the story in the past. For example, Harriet goes on a short cruise on the Queen Mary II with a friend, which gives her a sense of what life might have been like for her grandmother working on the great liners in the past. The Queen Mary II was the biggest cruise ship of its time just as the Olympic and then Titanic were the biggest ships of their time.
Another common feature was difficult sibling relationships and mother/daughter relationships. Emma, Ruby and Lily in the early 20th century were very different kinds of people. Emma was the hardworking responsible, eldest daughter and the narrator for most of that part of the story. Ruby was the middle daughter, harder to like, a bit of a handful and a bit flighty. The youngest daughter Lily was so sweet and having been ill for much of her young life, was well looked perhaps a bit babied, by her mother. In the present day, Harriet has drifted apart from her brother, though not because of any great falling out. She also has an estranged daughter and grandchildren she never sees. Her daughter Sally who stayed nearby always looked out for her mother, although was a bit over-bearing at times, However, with another issue having a huge impact on her life, I could see why she was so protective of her family. The author portrayed all these relationships very realistically and they felt like an accurate portrayal of the sometimes strained relationships within families
Kathleen McGurl had me fooled for quite a bit of her story with her clever way of writing about the sisters and what Harriet knew about her past. Just as Harriet found out things about her ancestors that she hadn’t known, the author took me completely by surprise at points too. I found the story revolving around the ships and the sisters particularly fascinating, especially knowing what happened to each of the ships. I was reading eagerly to find out the fate of the sisters. The contemporary storyline was more of an unknown of course making it just as absorbing a read. This is a story of secrets, sacrifice and loss but at the same time manages to be a very uplifting read. A lovely story blending historical fact and fiction with a compelling contemporary strand too.
My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random resources for the opportunity to take part in this blogtour and for the review e-copy of the book via Netgalley. The Lost Sister is published by HQ digital and available now as an ebook. The paperback version will follow in July.
About the Author
Kathleen McGurl lives in Christchurch with her husband. She has two sons who have both now left home. She always wanted to write, and for many years was waiting until she had the time. Eventually she came to the bitter realisation that no one would pay her for a year off work to write a book, so she sat down and started to write one anyway. Since then she has published several novels with HQ and self-published another. She has also sold dozens of short stories to women’s magazines, and written three How To books for writers. After a long career in the IT industry she became a full-time writer in 2019. When she’s not writing, she’s often out running, slowly.
Social Media Links
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KathMcGurl @KathMcGurl