It’s hard to express how much I love finding a new favorite author. A few years ago, when I read Lynda Cohen Loigman’s The Two-Family House, I was immediately smitten with her richly drawn characters, her exploration of complex family dynamics, and her ability to construct the vivid sense of time and place I love getting lost in as a reader. I couldn’t wait to see what would come next from her, and now, with her sophomore novel, The Wartime Sisters (releasing 1/22), I will wholeheartedly reiterate that she is an author you should rush to read.
Set during the height of World War II, The Wartime Sisters introduces us to Ruth and Millie, siblings from Brooklyn who could not be more different. Ever the responsible one, Ruth leads a respectable life as an officer’s wife in the Springfield Armory in Massachusetts. Her comfortable existence is shaken when Millie—forever labelled “the beauty” and destined for great things—arrives at her door as a war widow, dressed in shabby clothes with her young son in tow. With Millie living under Ruth’s roof and working on the assembly line at the armory, the carousel of resentment and massive secrets both sisters shoulder brings tensions to a mounting climax. The Wartime Sisters dives into the effects of deep-rooted sibling rivalry and the dire consequences of long-held secrets, while also shining a light on the heroic efforts and sacrifices made by the greatest generation’s sisterhood of women. It consumed me from cover to cover.
What I love most about Lynda Cohen Loigman’s writing is how complex and beautifully flawed all of her characters are. With each chapter, I felt like I was peeling away new layers of the sisters’ past, understanding more and more about what brought them to this point and uncovering hidden truths that escalated the plot into impossible-to-put-down territory. Exemplifying the true meaning of sisterhood, the stories of other women at the armory—the commanding officer’s wife and an Italian cook-cum-singer—are woven throughout, each with a compelling history of her own. I found myself pledging, “One more chapter,” then one more, then another, until an entire day had passed and I knew I wasn’t getting any sleep without finding out how the threads of this heart-stopping tale would tie up.
As the granddaughter of two WWII veterans, it’s my favorite time period to read about, and there’s nothing I adore more than when a novel teaches me about a new piece of the past. The Wartime Sisters opened my eyes to the vast history of the Springfield Armory, and Loigman’s combination of painstaking research and impeccable craft gives a voice to the remarkable women who served as “soldiers of production” on the home front. I truly can’t recommend it enough.
With the chilly days of winter ahead, I have three pieces of advice for you: Make a hot cup of tea, find your favorite chair, and crack open The Wartime Sisters. Shoveling can wait. A book this good cannot.
For more on Lynda Cohen Loigman and her awesome novels, check out lyndacohenloigman.com and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You won’t want to miss a minute of her adorable pup, Winston!