“After sixteen years apart sisters Jessica and Emily are reunited. With the past now behind them, the warmth they once shared quickly returns and before long Jess has moved into Emily’s comfortable island home.
Life couldn’t be better. But when baby Daisy disappears while in Jess’s care, the perfect life Emily has so carefully built starts to fall apart.
Was Emily right to trust her sister after everything that happened before?”
I’ve been wanting to read Little Sister since its release in eBook earlier this year. Those clever PR types did a stonking job of ramping up my FOMO* by handing out sampler copies over on NetGalley. Not the full book, you understand, just a short taster of what you could get if you were lucky enough to receive a copy. And readers were buzzing! A large proportion of the bloggers who I completely adore and (obviously) whose opinions I 100% trust, loved this book. So I was rather pleased to get my mitts on a full, start to finish, prologue to epilogue copy. Unfortunately, my blog tour reads have taken all of my spare time since then so I haven’t been able to make a start on this highly anticipated novel….until now! Thankfully, due to the August holiday lull, I have managed to read Little Sister, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I always become a little more excited about a book if, after reading the prologue, I have a case of the chills. The prologue of Little Sister gave me goosebumps and nearly broke my heart, all in one.
We are introduced to estranged sisters, Emily and Jessica, who meet for the first time in years at their mother’s funeral. Jessica is the younger sister, sent away several years ago by her family for an unforgivable incident which brought shame upon her strict Catholic family. Emily has since carved a wonderful home life for herself with a new baby, Daisy, a loving partner, James and a teenage stepdaughter, Chloe on the peaceful Isle of Wight. The reunion between the sisters is a positive one and before long Jess has moved in with Emily’s family as Daisy’s nanny, enabling Emily to return to work. But on New Year’s Eve, whilst Emily and James are out enjoying themselves, Daisy is taken right from underneath Jess’s nose. Slowly and surely the family begin to unravel, suspicions run high and secrets are the mainstay of this once-loving family. Was Emily right to trust Jess? And will Daisy be found before it’s too late…?
This is one of those novels where you can never be sure who to trust, who is keeping a monumental secret hidden within and exactly where the story will take you. Pure fictional bliss, in other words! I immediately disliked Jess and was incredibly wary of her. I couldn’t understand why this sensible, practical new mum had decided her estranged sister was the right person to be in charge of her young baby. Purely convinced of the fact by a simple, quick lie from Jessica about being a nanny in Canada whilst travelling! But as this twisty story progressed, my allegiance changed. I began to dislike Emily and warm a lot more to Jessica. Strange things were happening. As the author laid out her character’s lives, new ‘clues’ became unearthed, points I hadn’t taken into consideration before suddenly became…well, significant.
The story is told from three POVs; Emily, Jess and a third narrator who shall remain nameless for the sake of this review (and to avoid spoilers). There are glimpses into the past and the terrible incident which drove Jess away from her family, told from Jessica’s side and also from Emily’s. These flashbacks give the reader a much clearer understanding of the shaky foundation this sisterly bond was built upon and provides the reader with a greater insight into these two women.
Would I recommend this book? I would. It’s twisty, emotional and a darn good tale of sisterly love gone ‘off track’. I loved the uncovering of the secrets, the clues left along the way and the gradual unravelling of one of the key characters. I enjoyed Ashdown’s writing style but at times was longing for a little more dialogue (but that’s just me!). Intricate, seamless and wonderfully intense. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
Four out of five stars.
I chose to read and review an eARC of Little Sister. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.
*FOMO = Fear of Missing Out
Little Sister by Isabel Ashdown was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 27th July 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |
Isabel’s writing career was first launched when she won the Mail on Sunday Novel Competition in 2008, with judges Fay Weldon, Michael Ridpath and the late Sir John Mortimer describing her work as ‘magnificent.’ The completed novel, Glasshopper (Myriad Editions), went on to be named among the Best Books of 2009 by both the Observer and the London Evening Standard. Her latest novel, Little Sister, is out with Trapeze (Orion Publishing) in 2017.
In 2017/18 she will be a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Chichester, where she previously studied as a mature student, gaining a first class BA in English and a masters in Creative Writing with distinction. Her essay on the subject of voice features in Writing a First Novel by Karen Stevens (Palgrave MacMillan 2014).
Isabel grew up on the south coast and now lives in West Sussex with her carpenter husband, their two children and their dogs Charlie and Leonard. Together with Leonard the dachshund, she is a proud volunteer for the Pets as Therapy Read2Dogs scheme, an initiative aimed at nurturing confidence in young readers and promoting a lifelong love of books.
Isabel is a member of the Society of Authors.