Sisters at War by Clare Flynn
Book Review

Publication Date: 1st May 2021
Publisher: Cranbrook Press
Page Length: 314 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction


1940 Liverpool. The pressures of war threaten to tear apart two sisters traumatised by their father’s murder of their mother.

With her new husband, Will, a merchant seaman, deployed on dangerous Atlantic convoy missions, Hannah needs her younger sister Judith more than ever. But when Mussolini declares war on Britain, Judith's Italian sweetheart, Paolo is imprisoned as an enemy alien, and Judith's loyalties are divided.

Each sister wants only to be with the man she loves but, as the war progresses, tensions between them boil over, and they face an impossible decision.

A heart-wrenching page-turner about the everyday bravery of ordinary people during wartime. From heavily blitzed Liverpool to the terrors of the North Atlantic and the scorched plains of Australia, Sisters at War will bring tears to your eyes and joy to your heart.

My Thoughts

In this excellent sequel to Storms Gather Between Us, Clare Flynn takes us to wartime Liverpool, on the Atlantic convoys and to an internment camp in Australia, as the dramatic story of Hannah and her husband, Will Kidd, an Australian merchant seaman, continues.

With war declared, Will is facing the constant threat from German U-boats as he serves on the Atlantic convoys. He survives one such encounter to be reunited with a dear friend. He also takes part in the evacuation of the BEF from Dunkirk.

Will's exploits alternate with life in Liverpool where Hannah's days revolve around anxiously awaiting his return and running a household, which comprises Sam, a conscientious objector and also her landlord; her younger sister, Judith; and Nance, the mistress of Sam's late father. All are bound in some way by the tragic events perpetrated by Hannah and Judith's father, which resulted in the death of their mother.

Both sisters are eager to overcome their family tragedy, but their once close bond is now strained as Hannah holds Judith partly responsible for what happened to their mother. Unable to find comfort from Hannah, Judith turns to the Catholic church for solace. This surprises Hannah, who has rejected religion forever due to the actions of their religious zealot father.

When Judith meets Paolo, an Italian seaman, Hannah feels excluded and believes that their relationship will never recover, but Paolo's arrest as an enemy alien sees the sisters draw closer. They now share the anguish and uncertainty of being separated from the men they love. However, the consequences of Judith's romance with Paolo and her reaction to his fate stirs resentment in Hannah and once again the sisters are at odds.

I enjoyed this story which shared Will's life at sea and also focused on what was happening on the home front. Hannah's world is just as precarious as Will's with the nightly bombing, rationing of food, the stress of Will being away and the unhappiness of her broken relationship with Judith.

The rounding up of enemy aliens, in particular the Italians after Mussolini allies his country with Hitler, shows the injustice of the government's stance and also the shock, outrage and helplessness that Hannah, Judith and friends feel seeing neighbours marched away and business premises vandalised. The treatment these people endured is described in all its horror, as is the sinking of the SS Arandora Star ferrying internees and German prisoners of war to Canada.

Sisters at War can be read as a standalone, but I recommend reading the previous book first. The backstory given was sufficient to jog my memory of events from the previous book, which I'd read nearly a year ago, and may satisfy some readers new to the story of Hannah and Will. Others, may not feel the same emotional pull that I did having met these characters before, without knowing more of their shared history, including the significance of Elizabeth Morton, Hannah's estranged aunt, or the added tension when old enemies resurface.

The ending was abrupt and not what I was expecting, although it does leave the way open for Hannah's story to continue. I hope it does.

Sisters at War is an emotional drama played out on land and sea that I'm happy to recommend.

Where to Purchase

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Meet the Author

Clare Flynn is the author of thirteen historical novels and a collection of short stories. A former International Marketing Director and strategic management consultant, she is now a full-time writer.

Having lived and worked in London, Paris, Brussels, Milan and Sydney, home is now on the coast, in Sussex, England, where she can watch the sea from her windows. An avid traveler, her books are often set in exotic locations.

Clare is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of The Society of Authors, ALLi, and the Romantic Novelists Association. When not writing, she loves to read, quilt, paint and play the piano.

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  1. I am so glad you enjoyed Sisters at War.
    Thank you so much for hosting today's tour stop.