When Miffy's father abandoned his wife and children and ran off with Laura's mum, the effect on both families was momentous and catastrophic, not least because Miffy (aka Melissa) and Laura were the best of friends who shared absolutely everything. Twenty years later, the time has come for them to meet up again, with interesting results. The discomfort of two families meeting again, for a rather sad event, is done with a lightness of touch, with the inevitability of time passing, lying perhaps more heavily on Laura, than on Miffy.
The story unfolds gradually, sometimes in the here and now, and sometimes in the past, but as it starts to combine and coalesce you get a real sense of two families at war with themselves. Much has occurred to cause this rift and no one is entirely blameless. What I loved was the way in which the author made you see all sides of the story and allowed a glimpse into the complexities of modern family life. I particularly liked the clearly defined chapters which allowed both Miffy and Laura the chance to share their own particular version of events. As victims of circumstance, both Miffy and Laura come across as rather forthright young women, both flawed in their own way and both living life in their own indomitable style. The other characters that flit into and out of the story are entertaining and add real interest; some of them were more likeable than others but all have their own role to play.
I found the book to be an enthralling read, with a confident style of writing and some rather wry snippets of humour which made me smile.
When We were Sisters is an assured début novel by an author who I am sure will continue to go from strength to strength in future novels.
My thanks to the author for running a competition in which I won my signed copy of this book.