Emma and Claire O'Donnell, ages ten and seven, mysteriously vanish after a blizzard in 1879 Albany, New York—the same storm that kills their parents. Dr. Mary Stipp, the passionate, determined heroine from Oliveira's best-selling My Name Is Mary Sutter (2010), is close to the O'Donnell family, and she and her physician husband, William, continue searching for the girls after the police give up. Newly returned from Paris, Mary's musician niece, Elizabeth, distressed over the disappearance, and for private reasons, befriends Jakob Van der Veer, the local lumber king's son. The discovery of the sisters' fate then shocks the city, with newspapers stirring up interest and false rumors. This historical tale with thriller elements involves a sensitive subject, but Oliveira is as gently direct with her traumatized characters as Mary is with her patients. The story shines in depicting Albany's diverse geography and society, and the era's antifemale bias feels downright infuriating. Some aspects of the mystery seem rather obvious, but the courtroom scenes are dramatically unpredictable. The individual stories build to create a multifaceted and affecting portrait of courage. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.
Library Journal Reviews
Oliveira made the extended New York Times best sellers list with her Michael Shaara Prize-winning debut, My Name Is Mary Sutter, then detoured to a novel about Mary Cassatt with I Always Loved You. Now she returns to Mary Sutter, working as a doctor in 1897 Albany, NY, who ventures forth during a blizzard to find the two little daughters of friends who perished in the snowfall.
Copyright 2017 Library Journal.
Library Journal Reviews
Twelve years after their work on bloody Civil War battlefields (recounted in My Name Is Mary Sutter), William and Mary Stipp face a problem their medical expertise cannot cure. Two young sisters, Emma and Claire O'Donnell, disappeared during a brutal snowstorm that devastated Albany, NY, and killed their parents, the Stipps' close friends. Demanding police action while searching themselves, they are joined by Mary's niece, who returns from studying in Paris to escape her own secret. Just when everyone accepts the girls' likely deaths, they reappear during a massive spring flood. Alive but traumatized, they tell of kidnapping, imprisonment, and abuse. Wealthy Gerritt Van der Veer coerces his inexperienced lawyer son into defending his foreman, James Harley, against the charges. But at the sensational trial, Emma testifies that another man, not Harley, raped her. Readers likely will guess his identity well before the upright Albany citizens acknowledge the corruption that made this injustice possible. Those familiar with the first novel will have additional insight into characters, but this book stands alone. VERDICT Oliveira blends mystery, historical detail, and courtroom drama in a compelling story that will please most historical fiction fans, especially those who enjoyed the previous novel. [See Prepub Alert, 8/28/17.]—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Mankato
Copyright 2017 Library Journal.
PW Annex Reviews
Oliveira (My Name Is Mary Sutter) reunites readers with doctor Mary Sutter in this galvanic tale set in the winter of 1879. After a deadly blizzard engulfs the northeastern U.S., Mary, a former Civil War surgeon turned practicing doctor in Albany, N.Y., sets out to find two missing girls whose parents died in the storm. Mary is resolute in her mission to find the girls, and even after Albany police give up their official search, she perseveres. Meanwhile, Mary's mother, Amelia, and niece, Elizabeth, return from Paris, where Elizabeth had gone to study violin. Upon returning to a devastated Albany, Elizabeth mourns the loss of the missing children, who are now presumed dead, along with her dream of becoming a professional musician, which seems out of reach after her training abroad ended poorly. When the shocking fate of the girls is suddenly revealed, Elizabeth, seeing an opportunity to help others recover from the horrible discovery, takes out her violin. Mary approaches the matter as a doctor, collecting evidence with the help of her family to understand what happened to the girls. Their dramatic investigation culminates in a courtroom battle that shakes the entire city. Oliveira's beautiful, expertly researched novel showcases the lives of women overcoming societal constraints and living fearlessly. (Feb.)
Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly Annex.
New York, 1879: After an epic snow storm ravages the city of Albany, Dr. Mary Sutter, a former civil war surgeon, begins a search for two little girls, the daughters of close friends killed by the storm who have vanished without a trace. When what happened to them is revealed, the uproar that ensues tears apart families, reputations, and even the social fabric of the city, exposing dark secrets about some of the most powerful of its citizens, and putting fragile loves and lives at great risk. - (Baker & Taylor)
When the two young daughters of friends killed in a blizzard in 1879 vanish without a trace, former Civil War surgeon Mary Sutter launches a rescue effort that is challenged by a community that believes there is no hope. - (Baker & Taylor)
When the two young daughters of friends killed in a late-19th-century storm vanish without a trace, a former Civil War surgeon launches a determined rescue effort that is challenged by a community that believes there is no hope and a violin student niece who returns home from Paris with a secret agenda. By the best-selling author of My Name Is Mary Sutter. - (Baker & Taylor)
“Stunning. . . Oliveira writes with feeling.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“[An] engrossing story. . . that feels utterly timely.”
—People, “The Best New Books”
New York, 1879: An epic blizzard descends on Albany, devastating the city. When the snow finally settles, two newly orphaned girls are missing. Determined not to give up hope, Dr. Mary Sutter, a former Civil War surgeon, searches for the two sisters. When what happened to them is finally revealed, Dr. Sutter must fight the most powerful of Albany's citizens, risking personal and public danger as she seeks to protect the fragile, putting at risk loves and lives in her quest to right unimaginable wrongs.
As contemporary as it is historic, Winter Sisters is part gripping thriller, part family saga, and ultimately a story of trauma and resilience that explores the tremendous good and unspeakable evil of which humans are capable. - (Penguin Putnam)