Moving back to the remote island of Little Sister off the Maine coast, Kathleen is drawn back to the land of her grandmother without knowing why. Confused by the pull of her heritage, doubtful of her future and controlled by the past, she must learn to let go before she can move forward.
Molly is one of the many islanders with no desire to leave; after a brief time away at college she knows where she belongs. She doesn’t want Kathleen back in their lives, dredging up the past and destroying their peace. But time and circumstance have a way of throwing people together, and Molly can’t seem to escape. As time goes on and their lives get more intertwined, both women must let go of the past and grow into their future.
Set on a small island with a tiny population, no cell towers and infrequent or no ferry’s during the winter season, Caren Werlinger has created a world which feels old fashioned but yet calls to us of a simpler life. Combine the settling with an unusual heritage of a shipwreck full of Irish immigrants combining genes, cultures and religion with the indigenous First People and we have an intriguing society, one which cares for itself, each other and the island with fierce loyalty and gentle understanding.
Along with the island we are presented with a large and well developed cast of characters from Molly’s warm and welcoming family to Kathleen’s abusive and mean spirited parents and controlling ex-girlfriend. We meet a wide array of islanders from the ferry crew onwards and all become friends, all drawn with depth and affection, they fill out the story into a well-rounded whole. Louisa and Olivia, the elderly spinster sisters and their portable father would steal the show if it weren’t for Kathleen’s adorable dog, all of whom add to an intriguing and complex tapestry of relationships.
Molly seems to be the more settled and sorted, but her anger and guilt about the events of the past have held her back, prevented real attachment and peace. Kathleen’s emotionally abusive mother and her virtual abandonment as a child have left deep scars and we can recognise her clinging to her first girlfriend for the emotional crutch it is. Both Molly and Kathleen must grow, but Kathleen, in particular, has a huge journey to take.
Caren Werlinger writes extremely good books. Her early romances were very well done, her fantasy series one of the best out there and this new romance shows how she has matured even further as a writer in how she develops characters and the backdrop of the plot. The slow burn romance is lovely, but this tale of island life would stand without it, the various sub plots and cast of characters are a story on their own.
Excellent writing as always, I rarely give 5 stars for a romance because it is so hard to stand out from the crowd, but this is far more than a romance, and I would highly recommend it, especially for those of you who rarely read romance and want something ‘more’. Caren Werlinger is simply a master storyteller, a brilliant world builder and mistress of the classic ensemble piece.
Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.
(publisher review copy received)
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.