In Anna Maxted’s fifth novel, Elizabeth “Lizbet” Montgomery and Cassie Montgomery-Hershlag tell their stories almost simultaneously. The two are sisters, two who couldn’t be more different./p>
The older sister at 32, Lizbet has not married, but she’s happy in her relationship with Tim and their cat, Sphinx. She is in no hurry to get married and happy in her job as the assistant to the deputy editor of Ladz Magazine.
Five years younger, Cassie is married to George Hershla, and is a successful barrister. She desperately wants a child.
A Tale of Two Sisters is a story of growth and the bonds of family. Early on, Lizbet finds that her life is about to change, and it brings about a change in her that surprises some, particularly Cassie.
Suddenly the sister who as a child told a nanny “I don’t want babies, I prefer dogs,” will have one, and the sister who desperately wants a child is left in shock. Shock isn’t all it brings for Cassie. Jealousy and bitterness come with that surprise, and a desire to know about a past she’d ignored. On the morning of her thirteenth birthday, Cassie’s parents came to her and made an announcement she’d not seen coming. Cassie was adopted, and when she felt she was ready, she could find out the name of her birth mother simply by opening the box they presented.
Fourteen years later, the box remains unopened - until Lizbet’s announcement. Cassie suddenly must know who her birth mother is, and opening that box begins a search that she, and her family, may not quite be ready for. Her entire life changes, and Cassie searches to find her own happiness.
Several weeks after Lizbet tells her family and friends the news, disaster strikes. Miscarriage changes Lizbet’s life, several times over. First comes depression and drinking, then changes at work. Besides the loss of her child, Lizbet must deal with a new boss at the magazine and an assignment as a sex columnist, which drives a wedge between Tim and herself, deepening the loss of their baby. Driven by the loss of the woman that she had known as her sister, and the loss of her baby, Lizbet sinks into deep depression, especially when things at work take a turn and her solid world collapses. Determined to find something stable, Lizbet goes along with the change at work and embarks on a journey to find something that makes her happy. She and Tim break up, they get back together, and still they love each other.
Maxted’s novel can be a bit awkward at times, switching between the sisters’ stories at unexpected points and throwing in twists that don’t always make sense until much later, but all in all, it is an enjoyable read.
According to HarperCollins, Anna Maxted is a freelance writer and the author of the smash international bestsellers Getting Over It, Running in Heels, and Behaving Like Adults. She lives in London with her husband, author Phil Robinson, and their son.