The Orphan Sisters by Shirley Dickson


The Orphan Sisters by Shirley Dickson

Today I am thrilled to be part of the Blog Tour for The Orphan Sisters by Shirley Dickson. Thank you to Kim at Bookouture and NetGalley for a copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly.


A heartbreaking, unputdownable and utterly unforgettable story of two young sisters cruelly abandoned by their mother at an orphanage. Fans of Wives of War, Lisa Wingate and Diney Costeloe will lose their hearts to this stunning World War Two novel.

1929: Four-year-old Etty and eight-year-old Dorothy are abandoned at Blakely Hall orphanage by their mother, never to see her again. With no other family to speak of, the sisters worship their beloved mam – confused and heartbroken to be deserted by her when they need her the most.

1940: Etty and Dorothy are finally released from the confines of Blakely Hall – but their freedom comes when the country is in the grip of World War Two and its terrors. Amidst a devastating backdrop of screaming air-raid sirens and cold nights huddled in shelters, the sisters are desperate to put their broken childhoods behind them.

But trouble lies ahead. Dorothy must bid goodbye to her beloved husband when he’s sent to war and Etty must nurse a broken heart as she falls in love with the one man she can never be with.

Etty and Dorothy survived the orphanage with the help of one another and neither sister can forget the awful betrayal of their mother, which has haunted them their whole lives. But when a shocking secret about their painful childhood comes to light, will the sisters ever be the same again?

The Orphan Sisters

My Thoughts

Sisters Dorothy and Etty are traumatised by their abandonment by their mother when they were left at an orphanage without any explanation. Life at Blakely Hall was hard, they were given just enough food to maintain their ability to work and a basic uniform to wear. Therefore when they were released amid WWII the hardships of rationing didn’t come as a shock to them.

I loved the character of Laurie, who married Dorothy. A big, strong man with a heart of gold and he became like a brother to Etty, looking after her just like his wife. When Laurie had to go away to war the girls were left alone once more. The bond between them was so strong, through happiness and heartbreak they supported each other without question. The girls never really got over the fact that their mother had left them when they were so young and both needed to know why she acted as she did. If the truth was ever uncovered, would it be a blessing or a curse?

This was a compelling debut with a steady storyline which lead to a gripping finish. The main character Etty was quite flawed but she had a good heart and I couldn’t help but like her. It showed that love is not always a simple path, but one that cannot be ignored. The sense of family and companionship comes over very strongly and I will definitely look out for Shirley Dickson’s next novel.

I found Etty and Dorothy’s story utterly compelling and recommend to anyone who loves books centred around the time of WWII.


About the author
Shirley Dickson lives under the big skies of Northumberland with her husband, family and lucky black cat. 

She wrote her first short story at the age of ten for a magazine competition. She didn’t win but was hooked on writing for a lifetime.  For many years she wrote poetry and short stories and got many rejection slips. Shirley decided to get serious about writing novels when she retired and signed with Bookouture in 2018 for a two-book deal. She has written two stirring World War Two historical novels.

Shirley says she is a prime example of ‘never give up on your dream.’ 

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