Book review: Liverpool Sisters by Lyn Andrews
Inspired by the experiences of her great aunt in the early years of the 20th century, one of the North West's most popular storytellers brings us the drama-filled tale of two sisters fighting for their place in the world.
Lyn Andrews is the undisputed queen of the Merseyside saga and her warm, gritty and compelling stories featuring the struggles and hardships faced by Liverpool’s close-knit communities over the last century have made her one of the UK’s best-selling authors.
In her gripping and nostalgic thirty-seventh saga, Andrews plunges us into the lives of Livvie and Amy Goodwin, two girls left to fight their own battles against an ambitious and domineering father after the death of their beloved mother.
It’s 1907 and after years of hard work and endurance, Thomas Goodwin is now the proud owner of a small factory making cattle feed and can afford to move his family out of their cramped terraced home in Liverpool’s working class Everton area and move to the city’s more salubrious outskirts.
His wife Edith and their two daughters, 16-year-old Livvie and Amy, 14, are not too happy about the move to their grand new home, sensing ‘something disturbing’ within the house’s cold, damp and unwelcoming walls.
Edith is expecting again, a not entirely happy condition for a 39-year-old woman who has already suffered two stillbirths, and tragedy strikes when she and her son die in childbirth. Fortunately, the girls are taken under the wing of their wealthy and kindly next door neighbour Maud Mayhew and her family.
Two years later, the still grieving sisters are informed by their father that he is marrying again and introduces their new stepmother, Mary Fitzgerald, a quiet and unassuming young woman just 12 years older than Livvie.
And Thomas has plans for his daughters. For a start, he wants Livvie to marry their neighbours’ son Teddy Mayhew but Livvie, stubborn and determined like her father, has other ideas. She has secretly joined the women’s suffrage movement, helped in no small part by Frank Hadley, her father’s kind and handsome factory manager and the man she is growing to love.
Their relationship is a dangerous enough secret, but Livvie’s active interest in the Suffragettes could drive Thomas to the edge. For the Goodwin girls, the happy future they once took for granted is far from certain...
Brimming with high emotion and the grit and realism that we have come to expect from Andrews, Liverpool Sisters is written with all the warmth, passion and empathy of a born storyteller as we follow Livvie’s struggle to marry the man she loves and her fight for equality for women in a man’s world.
The hardships, threats and dangers endured by the women who actively campaigned for the Suffragette movement spring to life as Andrews blends romance, exciting action and real history in this vivid evocation of the years before the First World War.
Using her keen eye and ear for straight-talking northern folk and the stubbornness and resilience that mark out the Lancashire character, this engrossing family drama is guaranteed to win hearts and keep the pages turning.
(Headline, paperback, £7.99)