Monday, May 4, 2015

Julie's Review: Sisters of Heart and Snow


Author: Margaret Dilloway
Series: None
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Putnam
Pages: 400
Obtained: purchased
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Rating: 5.0
Bottom Line: Family focused on the ties the bind us and the ones that separate us
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab!
Summary: The critically acclaimed, award-winning author of How to Be an American Housewife returns with a poignant story of estranged sisters reunited when a request from their ailing mother reveals a long-buried family secret. Rachel and Drew Snow are sisters. Though they were confidants and cohorts as little girls, their lives have followed completely different paths. In fact, as adults they appear to occupy different planets. Rachel hasn't returned to her childhood home since being kicked out by her strict father after an act of careless teenage rebellion. Despite the estrangement from her parents, Rachel married a good man and is a mother to two strong-minded teens—she has a full, authentic life. Drew, younger by four years, followed her passion for music and works a variety of side jobs to supplement gigs and recording sessions. Shes now at an impasse, longing for the stability that has always eluded her. Both sisters recall how close they were, but the distance between them seems more than they can bridge. When their deferential Japanese mother, Haruki, is diagnosed with dementia, the family is surprised when she gives Rachel power of attorney. But no one is more surprised—and angered—than Rachel's domineering father, Killian. Killian's relentless anger, Haruki's seeming favoritism: each is a wedge in the gulf dividing the sisters. In a rare moment of lucidity, Haruki mysteriously asks Rachel to find a book in her sewing room. To get into the house, let alone find the book, Rachel needs her sisters help. But finding the book turns out to be just the beginning. The book—which tells the tale of real-life female samurai Tomoe Gozen, an epic saga of love, loss, and conflict during twelfth-century Japan—reveals truths about Drew and Rachel's relationship that resonate across the centuries, and helps them connect in a way that turns their differences into their strongest asset. The two sisters realize that courage is not just for the bold warrior women of ancient times, but for them, as well. ~powells.com  

Review: Sisters of Heart and Snow is one of the best books I've read yet this year. I loved the focus on sisters who were bound by family and torn by family. I also loved the historical story of two women who should have been enemies because of their situation and found a way to be sisters. It is the weaving of these stories together that gives Sisters of Heart and Snow a strong story. Rachel and Drew have been separated and estranged since Rachel was kicked out of the house at 16. They have kept in touch over the years but aren't particularly close. Neither one understands the other and frankly they don't take the time to get to know each other. It isn't until their mother is sick and in a nursing home that they begin to seek out each other.

It is in their quest to understand the book that their mother left to them where they start to bond. This is not to say that things aren't bumpy along the way because they are. It really is like they are strangers learning the ins and outs of their personalities. Rachel has been independent and married for 20 years with her own family, whom she has come to rely on. Drew is a bit lost. An extremely talented musician who has drifted from job to job. It isn't until she stays with Rachel for a bit that she begins to feel grounded and at home. While Drew wasn't kicked out of the house, it wasn't exactly a picnic living at home for her either. To sum it up pretty easily, their dad is an ass. I'll let you read the book to count the ways. And while his secret about Haruki might have been damning in the beginning, it certainly isn't when he reveals it to Rachel. Although we do know what he was holding over her head all these years and why she couldn't break free of him.

Interwoven into the story is the story of Tomoe Gozen who's strength and bravery speak to both Rachel and Drew but in different ways. Tomoe is a female samurai who is one of the strongest and most feared of the army. The men listen to her and respect her because she is skilled but also because she has the respect of their leader. It is her friendship/sisterhood with another woman that should have been her enemy that Rachel and Drew draw strength from during their tribulations.

I loved learning about Tomoe and her skills, bravery, loyalty and beauty. I can only imagine how men both feared and re veered her. This is my first book by Ms. Dilloway but I can tell you that it won't be my last. I loved how she wove both tales of "sisterly" love into a stunning, heartfelt novel. I could identify with each of the women in the novel for various reasons.

If you are looking for a novel that brings the family drama and that you can fall into immediately, then look no further than Sisters of Heart and Snow
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4 comments :

Beth Hoffman May 4, 2015 at 1:20 PM  

I'm glad you liked it, Julie. I did too. Happy spring to you and yours!

Julie May 4, 2015 at 2:45 PM  

Right back at you, Beth!!

Miranda Hubbard ,  May 7, 2015 at 5:12 PM  

I haven't readi yet but you should definitely pickup her other works. I liked Roses a lot but by far Housewife is my favorite! Can't wait to get started on Sisters thanks for the inspiration!

Julie May 7, 2015 at 11:01 PM  

I've heard great things about Housewife and probably will grab it soon.

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