Saturday, January 28, 2023

The Woman With Two Shadows by Sarah James ~ Book Review

Though totally opposite personalities, Lillian Kaufmann and her identical twin sister Eleanor were very close.  Lillian is very studious and is studying to be a physicist while Eleanor is a carefree actress.  When Lillian gets word that she is to be accepted into Harvard she is thrilled until she learns that Eleanor has landed a part in play that also must take her to Chicago.  There is now the dilemma of who will care for their mother if both girls are gone.  Lillian was counting on Eleanor and a battle of who will get their dreams realized starts to come between their sisterly bond.  When Eleanor unexpectedly takes a mysterious job at an army base in Tennessee, Lillian is dumbfounded that her sister would go to those lengths to get away from her. But when Lillian gets an odd phone call from Eleanor's boyfriend telling her Eleanor is missing, Lillian heads to Oak Ridge to clear up the matter and talk Eleanor into coming home.  What she finds there is a mysterious, fenced town of thousands that officially does not exist where she must assume Eleanor's identity in order to even get inside the perimeter.  As Eleanor digs into the days before her sister allegedly went missing, she finds others reporting missing friends and a town that holds dangerous secrets of one of the biggest scientific projects of all time.  Who can she trust is telling the truth in this town her sister became a part of?

I really enjoyed this historical novel set around the most closely guarded secret of WWII and the biggest scientific discovery of it's time.  The tension between the sisters that causes Eleanor to abandon her dreams and take the job at the army base is told in flashbacks as Lillian is at the base posing as Eleanor to gain information.   There was lots of mystery, cover ups and layers as Lillian tries to pose as her sister to figure it all out, not knowing who can be trusted, and not knowing exactly what is going on at this facility.  Lots of twists and turns keep the story moving to it's conclusion and the revealing of the project.   In the end it's a story that questions how some of the smartest scientists of the time could have justified the end results of a project in order to rise to the challenge of the project itself.    I thought this was a great debut novel.

Rating:  9.5/10
Reading Challenge Goal Met:  Read one book a month from my Library to read list


Barbara Harper said...

That secret city is about 20 minutes from us! It's fascinating to read about. All these people were working for the government without most of them knowing what they were working on. A good nonfiction book about it is The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. This fiction version sounds interesting though more sinister.

Amy said...

That sounds like a great book! I love books based on true stories, and I had never heard of this one.

Karen said...

Ooh, this sounds really good. I just finished a mystery that was just 'eh'.
I'll put this on my TBR list.

Faith said...

Oh this is definitely going on my list!! I'm going to search for it via our library website right now!! thanks for the great review. I LOVE historical fiction.

Hena Tayeb said...

I try to stay away from WW books but sounds like you enjoyed it.