Book Review: When We Were Sisters by Cynthia Ellingsen

About the Book:

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Two sisters who haven’t spoken for twenty years. One summer to bring a family back together.

Jayne Winters hasn’t seen her sister Charlotte since that last childhood holiday at their grandmother’s North Carolina beach house. Separated after that summer by their parents in a bitter divorce, Charlotte has never forgiven Jayne for not fighting to stay together.

So when Jayne discovers that they have both inherited the beach house, and that their grandmother’s last wish was for them to renovate it together, it feels like a miracle: one last chance to win her sister back.

At first Charlotte will barely speak to her. But slowly the memories of swimming races and storytelling in their attic bedroom looking over the sea start to break down the wall between them. With the help of photographs and letters left by their grandmother for them to find, the two women begin to restore not just the creaking mahogany staircase and the faded antique wallpaper, but their own relationship.

But then Jayne discovers that Charlotte has kept a heart-stopping secret from their past from her. Can she find it in her heart to forgive her sister and keep their grandmother’s dream of reuniting them alive—or are some wounds too big to heal?

An emotional and uplifting read about sisters, secrets and the family bonds that hold us together no matter how complicated they are, from the bestselling author of The Lighthouse Keeper. Fans of Mary Ellen Taylor, Elin Hilderbrand and Mary Alice Monroe will love this.

My Thoughts:

When We Were Sisters is a heart-warming story that follows sisters Jayne and Charlotte as they come together to honor their Grandmother’s last wishes. As per her will, the sisters have to stay together at their grandmother’s house and work on it’s renovations. Separated from each other as a result of their parents divorce, the sisters have a lot to work through, if they give each other a chance.

I loved how this book takes you on a roller coaster of emotions with a strong focus on the bond between the sisters. The love for a sibling is one of the most basic and the author captures the yearning to connect and be a family, very well. At first reluctant, the sisters are forced to confront their feelings and try to talk to one another. As the story progresses, the reader will find out more and more about their past, the circumstances behind their parents decisions and some hidden truths which have the strength to break a person.

In the midst of all this, we see stability in Charlotte’s life, not without it’s own problems but those which  can be worked out together. Jayne deals with the beginnings of a new romance as well as the chance to finally connect with her sister and her family. As their lives mix, Jayne tries to form bonds with her nephews and bring back some light into her sister’s eyes reminiscent of their childhood.

This is a story of love, loss, summer fun and a second chance at a relationship that could help to heal old wounds and even some new ones. Secrets are never good and they have the power to destroy everything. However, I think that the strength of the characters and perseverance bring this story together with a conclusion that is tearful and full of joy. I definitely recommend this book that is filled with all kinds of emotions and is beautifully written until the end!