The Island Girls: A heartbreaking historical novel

· Bookouture
2 reviews

About this ebook

This book was so good. I didn't want to put it down… the storyline sucked you into it and made you feel like you were really there.’ Goodreads Reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Vinalhaven Island. A disappearing place, in the wild Atlantic, of towering pines, lobster traps and two sisters torn apart by tragedy…

Harvard 1960. Nineteen-year-old Susannah says farewell to college life for the summer and returns to Vinalhaven Island, her remote rocky home off the coast of Maine. Her beloved sister Kate is marrying Matthew, a local fisherman, a man with a heart as cold as the Atlantic Ocean.

Years later, nurse Emer is sent to Vinalhaven to look after Susannah, who has lived in isolation since her sister’s tragic death. When Emer discovers a bundle of letters in a rainbow quilt in the bedroom, she and Susannah grow closer. Eventually, Susannah opens up enough to tell Emer the story of Kate’s brutal and secret past.

But when Emer starts asking locals about Kate, the island air sizzles with hostility. There are people who would rather that Susannah kept quiet, who have no qualms about threatening Emer. But despite the warnings to stay away, Emer is determined to find out what really happened the night Kate died – and the final secret that is keeping Susannah a prisoner to the past.

An unputdownable and unforgettable story of impossible choices and two sisters who would do anything for one another. Set on a bewitching sea-scented island, The Island Girls will burrow into your heart. Perfect for fans of Lisa Wingate, Anita Shreve and The Light Between Oceans.

What everyone’s saying about The Island Girls:

‘The Island Girls is a gorgeous, beautifully written, compelling story of love, loss and hope. I was completely absorbed in the stories of Emer and Susannah and their sisters when reading and somewhat bereft to leave them behind. This is a story which really touched me and I will remember the characters for a long time. If I tell you that I have added it to my Top Reads list for 2020, you will know how much I loved it. Please buy it, you won't be disappointed!’ Portobello Book Blog, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

It is gripping, beautiful, moving and unforgettable. Readers, you are in for a TREAT!’ Sinead Moriarty

‘So much love for this book!! I adored the story of Emer and the prickly Susannah, as they both face up to extremely difficult pasts and find ways of moving forward.’ Books and Me, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘Absolutely loved thisHighly recommended.’ Goodreads Reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

 ‘I found it extremely difficult to put the book to one side for any length of time. … Once I started to read that I was it, I completely immersed myself into the story and I found myself going through all kinds of different and contrasting emotionsThis may be the first of Noelle's books that I have had the pleasure of reading but it certainly won't be the last… a beautiful and emotional story’ Ginger Book Geek

‘I loved this story. I was totally caught up in it from the start. This was a very emotional read. I was close to tears on several occasions. … This is a memorable read and I would recommend it.’ NetGalley Reviewer

Highly enjoyed this wonderful, warm and inviting read, good story line, excellent characters – makes a great book.’ Goodreads Reviewer

A compelling story about the love between sisters… hard to put down from beginning to end.’ Goodreads Reviewer

A thrilling and emotional ride… the suspense was riveting.’ The Secret Book Sleuth

‘This story was so good! I was caught up in it from the very beginning!… I read this book in two days because it was really good… such a great story. And I love Maine so the setting is great.’ Goodreads Reviewer

Ratings and reviews

2 reviews
Friendly Neighborhood Inkslinger
May 5, 2020
Wow.. I'm not even going to waste your time building up to whether or not this book is worth reading.. it absolutely is. If you like family drama, mystery, or contemporary works with depth of any kind, you should give 'The Island Girls' by Noelle Harrison a read. Today. Seriously, the links are below. Normally, I'm not typically into childhood centric stories about the bonds of youth. You might assume I have a chilly nature.. and to a degree you might be right. But I also grew up an only child with very few kids in my personal life at all. Mostly, I grew up around adults and a couple of other kids like me.. who were more like smaller, less experienced adults. None of us really knew how to be children. Reading this book, I feel like that's how it was for Susannah too.. albeit for far more serious reasons. Taking place on a remote island called Vinalhaven off the coast of Maine, the narrative alternates between a timeline between the mid-50's to mid-60's where a pair of sisters were coming of age and 2011, Susannah still lives, but Kate is now long gone.. and a young Irish palliative care nurse named Emer has arrived to help out through the end stages of her cancer. Like Susannah and Kate, Emer is one half of a tragically broken pair. Her sister Orla, having died about a month prior also to cancer, has left her feeling guilty for not being with her at the end. So, through this commitment to Susannah, she hopes to make it up to her own sister. What starts out as a languidly paced tale about the pitfalls of the island mindset they grew up with, turns gradually into a starkly shaded story of dreadful intuitions and trauma. Their lives, especially once Kate becomes enthralled with a local fisherman, become a bit of a slow rolling storm. Even miles out at sea.. you can tell it's going to be devastating sooner or later. Interestingly enough, Harrison blind-sided me with an event fairly late into the book, when I'd settled into an easy sense of security.. much like the characters in her story. I had been casually reading from the beginning, as I always do with mysteries, with a pretty decent expectation as to where it was all leading. Mind you, some of those expectations were correct, but only the least of them and not remotely in the way I originally believed they would be. From the event forward, my entire perspective changed. It shocked me so much that I re-read the first lines as it happened, three or four times in a row.. just stunned. After that, I started to make logic leaps that I never would have early on in the book. My imagination even went a bit wild, admittedly.. as some of my leaps I realized quickly made no sense, though I still wondered as to the possibility of them. Ultimately, I did understand most of what was barreling down upon me as a reader, before it happened.. but not long before and that result was far more satisfying than anything I normally experience with a title like this. The author does a beautiful job of telling the tale through a series of letters interspersed between standard narratives told by both Susannah and Emer. And the two pairs of sisters lives almost mirror each others in a way, building an amazing foundation for the connection forming between the main characters. She elegantly sprinkles information throughout the book.. connecting more and more dots until you can see the entire painful picture she has painted. Noelle Harrison is a writer to watch. She brought me to tears and I'm not even mad about it. She earned them. I can't wait to read more of her work. (More reviews like this at Betwixt The Sheets.) (I received this title as an ARC. All opinions are mine and freely given.)
1 person found this review helpful
Cathy Geha
April 24, 2020
The Island Girls by Noëlle Harrison Three sets of sisters who all experience tragedy have their lives overlap and sometimes mirror one another in this poignant story of love and loss. Emer is still dealing with the loss of her beloved sister to cancer when she heads to a small island to do end of life care for Susannah. The two women have a rocky start but become closer with time and as they share what came before they met the two learn of sisters and lovers lost as well as perhaps finding a bit of comfort along the way. The story is told by flipping between the past and present and aa s a result the story unfolds slowly but drew me in and kept me reading till the very end. What I liked: * Emer: a good woman, sister and nurse – she has lost her way due to grief and a need to self flagellate but does eventually come around * Susannah: a woman before her time who escaped her island only to once again return and then never leave again * Katie: Emer’s sister was one who got lost in love and battered in the process * Orla: Emer’s sister who died too young * Rebecca & Lynsey: Katie’s children who are very close to their aunt Emer...and yet distant from her, too. * Lars: a good man that stuck by Emer in spite of her pushing him away * The way the book made me see the characters, feel with them and care about the outcome of their lives. * The island – beautiful but not necessarily a healthy place for sometime * That at least one couple seems to manage a HEA What I did not like: * Being reminded how horrible cancer is and how it respects no man or woman * The loss of life to cancer and other ways * The burden Susannah carried for so many years * Being reminded that those being abused can still love their abuser and not leave Did I like this book? Yes Would I read more by this author? Yes Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for the ARC – This is my honest review. 4-5 Stars

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