AUTHOR: JOY CALLAWAY • CATEGORY: HISTORICAL FICTION • PAGES: 337
NOTE- I received my copy of Secret Sisters from the good people at Harper (an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers) in exchange for my honest review. If you wish to see my review policy please click here.
Illinois, 1881: Whitsitt College sophomore Beth Carrington has two goals to fulfill by the time she graduates: obtain a medical degree, and establish a women’s fraternity, Beta Xi Beta, that will help young women like herself to connect with and support one another while attending the male-dominated Whitsitt.
Neither is an easy task. The sole female student in the physicians’ program, Beth is constantly called out by her professors and peers for having the audacity not to concentrate on a more “fitting” subject like secretarial studies. Meanwhile, secret organizations are off-limits, and simply by crowding together in a dank basement room and creating a sense of camaraderie, she and her small group of fraternity sisters risk expulsion.
In order to have the fraternity recognized, she knows she needs help. She turns to the most powerful student on campus: senior Grant Richardson, Iota Gamma fraternity president and the scion of a Whitsitt family–a man she’s only acquainted with because of her longstanding friendship with his fraternity brother Will Buchannan. Staunchly traditional, Grant doesn’t see the purpose of this women’s organization, but captivated by Beth, he agrees to give her a helping hand. What she doesn’t know is how many will stop at nothing to keep her burgeoning organization out of the record books–and who she can actually trust along the way.
As Beth fights for her beloved Beta Xi Beta to be recognized, she will uncover deep secrets about the college and those who surround her, and will have to put both love and friendship on the line so that history can be made.
Secret Sisters – Synopsis
If you have wanted to give historical fiction a go, but didn’t know where to start, then this book is the one for you. Simply it is more than historical fiction, it is cross-genre. It has influences of new adult, feminism and romance, all with the backsetting of 1881.
The characters at first glance appear quite one dimensional – the rich guy, the player, the strong female, the flirty dimwit, the feminist and the intovert. But they are far from that. The characters are so rich and full of complexity and life. Having read Callaways debut (The Fifth Avenue Artists Society) I wasn’t surprised because this is her strongest attribute as a writer.
Beth was simply a joy to have as a lead character. She battles with what may be right, but also what is practical. I loved her relationships with both Grant and Will, and thought that each interaction that she had with other characters in the book brought out a different attribute in herself.
Despite being a novel and the events being fabricated, it makes you really sit back and think about how far we have come in women’s equality. I know we aren’t 100% there yet, but the world that Callaway describes is almost unimaginable. I just can’t for the life of me envisage a world where not only did I not have an understanding of my own body and how reproduction occurs but furthermore, where it was completely discouraged and taboo to gain the relevant knowledge- even for someone practising medicine. Having been to university and where the majority of students were females in my business degree, I can only imagine how utterly lonely it would have been had I been the only female in the class. Needless to say I am pleased I live in this time and not the past.
This is one for all the females who believe in equality. I can only hope that a studio picks this book up and turns it into a movie, otherwise I will have to settle for re-reading. Do yourself a favour in the meantime and grab a copy for yourself. And, make note of the name Joy Callaway because I am certain that you will see her name on the best-seller list in the future.
Equality and Intellect
Overall Rating: ￼￼￼￼￼ ￼4.5/5 teacups
Where to buy a copy
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Happy reading x