Cover Image: The Woman with Two Shadows

The Woman with Two Shadows

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Member Reviews

I really wanted to like this book, but I eventually DNF'd after two months of putting the book down and picking it back up. The idea was good, however the book couldn't grab my attention. The writing was good.
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I want to start off by saying that I received a complimentary ebook copy. In return for my honest thoughts and review. I haven’t read anything from this author before. I do plan on adding more of this authors book to my tbr. I know this book is already released. But I still wanted to get my review up everywhere. I knew I had to read this book I have twins in my family. I love to historical fiction and this book has twin sisters. Yes I am reading. I like that this book had two different time lines. It’s where Lillian was thinking back about her sister. Some of Lillian actions kinda threw me off. But I don’t have a sister and I know that having a sister they do things because they curious how the other lives. When Lillian learns that no one has see or heard from her sister Eleanor. Who went to Tennessee for a top secret military base with her boyfriend. Lillian decides to go and find her sister. But Lillian discovers there more going at the military base then they are leading on. when her sisterYes this book did take me longer to read. But I needed to know what happened with Eleanor. I wish the ended was different but it was still a good ending.  I do still recommend this book. I loved all the historical and twin part of this book. Thank you to netgalley and the author again for allowing me the opportunity to read such amazing book. I love the strong female characters in this book. My reviews will be posted on amazon and goodreads and bookbub
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A great debut by Sarah James. Historical fiction meets thriller in this WWII book set in Oak Ridge, TN around working at one of the secret facilities associated with the Manhattan Project.
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1945 New York and Tennessee. This is about twins who had a very close relationship, with the "older" one feeling the protector. After a huge confrontation, the younger one, Eleanor, goes to Tennessee to work and find her boyfriend. Later, when she disappears, her boyfriend contacted the other twin, Lillian, to help find her. The location is on a secret military base where they are developing the fusion bomb. Spies, danger, murder, love, hatred, psychological twists, higher intelligence thinking all flow over one another. Lots of raw feelings exposed. Keeps you hooked as the story unfolds in a way that keeps you guessing to the very end. Not the nicest people, but there are moments of soft feelings and vulnerability. 
I received this book free from the publisher and NetGalley book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

#TheWomanwithTwoShadows #SarahJames #NetGalley #BooksYouCanFeelGoodAbout #HistoricalFiction #SourcebooksLandmark
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I read this book in less than a 10 hour span. That in itself says a lot about the book since my average time with a book is 5 days. 
The first 1/3 section of the book intrigued me even though it started a little slower than what I would have liked. The middle 1/3 made me almost put it aside due to the unnecessary cursing and lull in the storyline. The ending 1/3 became so odd that I just had to finish it to see how the author decided to end it. I was not particularly excited or satisfied about the ending. The thing that kept me reading was the suspense and my insane curiosity.
The only thing that made the 1940’s timeline make sense was the author’s note at the end. Most of the incidents throughout the book seemed present day. It was like the author was writing in a dual timeline but not letting the reader in on it. 
Anyway, my 3 star rating reflects the nice suspenseful detective like feeling throughout the book.

I was given an eARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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The bones of this story are good, taking place as the first atomic bomb is being developed in 1945. There were lots of opportunities to explore important issues like the morality of creating a bomb with such killing potential, like plutonium testing on mostly unsuspecting people, even like the difficulties faced by women wanting a career in physics. Unfortunately, none of those were examined with much depth so the novel felt lightweight. The characters were well developed; the unlikeableness (is that even a word?) of each did add to their believability. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for the ARC to read and review.
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A murder mystery woven with a historical fiction,  the characters are involved in scientific advancements that have been cloaked in secrecy. This story offers some unpredictable plot twists.
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A fantastic gripping America's World War 2 story with expertly crafted story line and characters by the author Sarah James. Eleanor Kaufman is missing after she left home in New York for a mysterious job at an army base somewhere in Tennessee. Lilian Kaufman's non identical twin sister Eleanor was supposed to return home in December just about the time when Lillian was to bid Farewell to Columbia University forever and go to much greener pastures of Harvard to do her doctoral program with real research involved. The location were Eleanor left to was so secretive and not an address given. Lillian was talented, brave, Intelligent and ambitious practicing for winning the Allerton Prize. If she wins the Allerton prize she gets to go to Harvard. Nothing and no one could stop Lillian from winning a full scholarship to Harvard. As the late news was the end of the battle of Berlin, the death of Hitler - celebrations in the streets of Europe had lined the NEW YORK TIMES for a week and a half. What was Eleanor doing at the Army base. Lillian didn't hear from Eleanor. Lillian had no interest in joining the war effort. Her mother needed care. Eleanor avoided responsibility by disappearing. 

Lillian and Eleanor grew up together, spending every second together. Although they had differences in the way they behave and silent feuds that go on for days they had looked similar. On an unexpected phone call from Max Medelson who was half the physicist she was anyway, she learns that Eleanor is missing, Lillian takes a train from New York down to Oak Ridge to find Eleanor and clear up the matter. Max had courted Eleanor and Lillian hated it. Eleanor well being brought petty jealousy to Lillian. 

The story is about a town and its people that officially never existed and the secrecy behind one of the Manhattan Project's top-secret cities responsible for creating the atom bomb used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. James's debut is wonderfully written and captivating. An unputdownable book with plenty of mysterious twists and turns in the story creating suspense along with history.

I just reviewed the book, The Woman with Two Shadows by Sarah James, Thanks to the publisher Sourcebooks Landmark and Netgalley for an advance copy for my honest review.
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“I don’t think there’s anything quite like humanity’s capacity to delude ourselves if it makes us feel better.”

The Woman with Two Shadows takes you to a critical moment in the development of nuclear weapons for the United States military during WWII. The story progresses from unpacking the drama between identical twin sisters Lillian and Eleanor Kaufman, tracking down clues for suspicious activities at the Oak Ridge facility, and the inevitable moral backlash of developing and detonating nuclear bombs, However, the underlying narrative is a study in human ambition and the ways that people can justify errors in judgement and even violent mistakes when driven by a belief that the ends justify the means. 

I really enjoyed the setup, storyline, surprise twists, and psychological/moral dilemmas presented, as well as the chance to learn about the Oak Ridge nuclear facility in Tennessee. The development of large-scale weaponry  is an interesting but important moral conundrum sadly relevant to our modern world. I only wish that Lillian’s cold, calculating character were a little more relatable,
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The Woman with Two Shadows offers a fascinating and involving look at the work that was done in Oak Ridge, Tennessee during WWII. Readers will find themselves quite involved with the history, the story and the characters.

Here we have twins who, while the same in many ways, want different things. What happens when one needs to assume the other’s identity?

Lillian strives for a prestigious math prize. The author says that she wants to go to Harvard which is a bit off, so a small criticism here. I think that, at that time, female students went to Radcliffe. Still, that should not spoil the story for readers.

Younger twin Eleanor wants to be an actress but this is not happening so she takes a job in Oak Ridge, TN, only to disappear. Ironically, Lillian who doesn’t want to act, takes on the biggest acting job imaginable when she has to pretend to be Eleanor. What has happened to Eleanor? How will Lillian manage her new life and what will she learn?

I recently read a book called The Physicists’ Daughter. It was different from this title but shares with it the work that led to the development of the bomb in WWII. Each of these novels offers a sense of history, engaging characters, twist and turns, and menace. They can be read as bookends.

Readers will be drawn into the story. Fans of historical fiction, take a look.

Many thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark for this title. All opinions are my own.
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Quick & Dirty
-WWII novel
-women in STEM
-psychological thriller
-Cold War ties

Synopsis
Lillian has never been the center of attention. Her twin, Eleanor, has always had the looks and the personality. That’s just fine with Lillian because she’s always been intelligent, and soon she’ll be Dr. Lillian Kauffman. But when Lillian makes a choice that threatens to end their relationship for good, Eleanor discovers her betrayal and boards the first train out of New York, heading straight for Oak Ridge, a secret Army base in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she’ll live and work to support the war effort. Weeks go by with no word from Eleanor, leaving Lillian desperate for reassurance they are ok. When a call finally comes, it’s the call Lillian dreads most.

Musings
What's an era in time that you wish you could have lived? For me, it's most definitely the 40s I could totally see myself living in a film noir! rah James’ debut novel, The Woman with Two Shadows, is exactly that! This psychological thriller had me hanging on to every word, trying to guess what happens next. The Woman with Two Shadows takes a worn-out twin plot and gives it new life. The twists and turns in this book are akin to any contemporary thriller I’ve read. James does a terrific job keeping the reader engaged, adding elements of surprise throughout the novel. The Woman with Two Shadows is a strong debut that historical fiction lovers should not miss!
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A very interesting book now one sister named Lily Her twin Ellen. These twinklers are so different and everyone respect but Lily was the one who was very mastermind behind Everything. Elle N Was very popular and outgoing and she wanted to be an actress Lily was very into physics and it was very sharp with numbers. Things got really weird when Eleanor left to go to work at Oakridge  On my atomic bomb project. Lily a man or a man was flirting with man and sleeping with him you'll find this out in the book gets very intense. But Eleanor goes missing Willie comes to the The rescue. Max started all like calling Lily Say her sister was missing. Max post her boyfriend and he ended up in the same place she did. So I know they got there everybody thought she was the other sister. So she went on to find out what really happened with her sister. There are some interesting points in this book about how black people were treated. There's a lot of Tristan terms in this book and I think it's really well written. The men are very evil in this World. Lily also got sprung along with Doctor Andrew. You had a lot of problems and it was quite violent at some point 2. You'll find this outbetter in the book.
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A different sort of look at Oak Ridge, Tennessee and the Manhattan Project. Eleanor and Lillian, though twins, are very different people.  Lillian,  a physics student, is focused on getting to Harvard for graduate work while Eleanor is an actress who follows Max, who Lillian has a crush on, off to Tennessee and then disappears.  It is somewhat implausible that Lillian would be able to fool everyone when she shows up at Oak Ridge pretending to be Eleanor so that she can search for her but that's the underlying premise.  What Lillian finds is a hotbed of lies, deceit, and, strange behavior, as well as a scientist obsessed with his research.  Eleanor is not the only one who has disappeared but how and why?  This moves back and forth in time in the beginning to give Eleanor and Lillian's back story, which frankly doesn't do Lillian any favors as she comes off as very immature (although, to be fair, she is in college).  James has done a good job at portraying the closed environment at Oak Ridge as well as Lillian's rising sense of unease as her hunt proceeds.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  For fans of historical fiction.
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The book is based on an interesting premise of being set in a secret military facility during WWII and having twins of whom one impersonates the other.  Unfortunately, I just didn't find the story engaging nor the characters likeable.
Lillian is a physics student, who looks after her widowed mother.  Eleanor is her identical twin, but who unlike Lillian is very much sociable and into theatre and drama.  When Lillian gets a call from Eleanor's boyfriend Max to say she has disappeared while working at a military facility, Lillian feels obliged to head there and find out more.  When she arrives she is mistaken for Eleanor and decides to play along.
I can see that others have really enjoyed this book, and I have to say it is well written and researched.  For me, it was just missing something and while I cannot personally recommend it, don't let me deter anyone else who may be interested in reading it.
Thank you SoucreBooks Landmark and Netgalley for the opportunity to review this digital ARC.
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I’m always interested in stories about twins, especially sisters. I also like mysteries. I thought The Woman with Two Shadows which is  about a twin her impersonates her sister to gain access to the Oak Ridge Lab in Tennessee to discover what happens to her would be a good fit for my interests.
First, there was a lot of a math, physics, and science talk, which stands to reason since Lillian, the main voice, is a physicist student. I skim read those parts because any kind of math or physics gives me a headache.
Secondly, I quickly came to despise Lillian. She was a manipulative, self-absorbed, selfish, condescending person. She sabotaged her sister in her career and relationships. I thought she was absolutely vile and reprehensible..
In fact, I didn’t like any of the characters in the book except Betty.
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3.5 stars. The premise of this story really intrigued me, and there were a lot of parts I liked. In particular, the suspense of what happened to Eleanor and what was happening in Tennesse made me invested in this storyline. However, knowing that the inspiration for this story was the Manhattan Project, I feel the author dropped the ball and missed an opportunity to really develop what was happening behind the scenes (purposely vague to avoid spoilers). Instead, she kind of glossed over it and continued on with the storyline. I would have liked a bit more of the "historical," but the author seemed to really prioritize the "fiction." I also think that a more linear storyline might have helped enhance the reading experience-- the interspersed flashbacks were a little disorienting and confusing at times.  

Thank you Netgalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for my ARC. Publication date: 7/26/22
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Reviewed for New York Journal of Books.


"The Woman with Two Shadows" by Sarah James
July 26, 2022
Sourcebooks Landmark
10-1728249538




It is 1945 and sisters Lillian and Eleanor Kaufman live in New York City. Lillian is older than Eleanor, her identical twin by seven minutes and the two are as different as day and night. Lillian is analytical and resolved to become a physicist. In her senior year at Columbia, she is no-nonsense and determined to make it to her goal as a Harvard grad student. Eleanor is the type of gal everyone is drawn to: flamboyant, captivating, flighty, and heading for a career on the stage.

Lillian spends almost every waking hour at the college lab, working tirelessly and quickly irritated with anyone and anything inconsequential or emotional. Emotions are to be kept inside and smothered, and though she loves her baby sister, her actions and manner irritate Lillian. If only they hadn't lost their father, which turned their mother despondent and barely able to get out of bed, Lillian would have no problems planning her life.

All aflutter, Eleanor is scheduled to audition for a show. Yet when the phone call comes in for her, Lillian answers it, posing as Eleanor taking the message about a revised tryout date. Thinking of telling Eleanor later, Lillian heads off to school with half a mind on the call.

Lillian's primary concern is getting her Ph.D. at Harvard, but she wonders If Eleanor acts in a play, who will take care of their mother? She has worked too hard to give up now and refuses to let Eleanor overshadow her as she always does. Every man falls for Eleanor; everyone looks at her and wants to befriend her. Even their mother shows a preference for her over Lillian. It's just not right.

Absorbed in her schoolwork and preparation to win the Allerton Prize, a scholarship to gain acceptance to Harvard, she loses track of time, only to later remember Eleanor's schedule change. Oh well. Lillian, who does not let her mind get caught up in trivial matters, figures she'll tell her sister later. She doesn't even consider Eleanor will find out she passed herself off as Eleanor.

Members of Lillian's class are offered jobs at the Clinton Engineer Works on an Army Base in Tennessee, promising the men deferment from the draft and the ability to continue their education. Max Medelson, Lillian's classmate and Eleanor's beau, jumps at the chance. He is sure Eleanor will attain the lead to open in Chicago, but before he departs, he proposes to Eleanor. Lillian, unintentionally eavesdropping, is shocked. Eleanor does not love him.

Tension elevates when Lillian voices her dislike for Max. A gulf grows between them, simmering with anger and animosity. Lillian considers him hallow and low class, firing many arguments, widening the chasm between the women. Max leaves, and when Eleanor learns about Lillian's deceitful deeds, she signs up for employment in Tennessee and goes after Max.

Lillian brushes this off as her sister's capriciousness and decides it will blow over and she will be home soon. Time passes, and Lillian hears nothing from her, no calls or addresses to send her letters. One day, while at the school lab, a summons has Lillian racing to reception to take a phone call. Heart leaping, she hopes it is Eleanor calling. But it isn't Eleanor. It's Max! What the heck?

"'Don't hang up,' he said quickly as if reading her mind. 'It's important. Have you heard from your sister?"'

"She did not want him to have the satisfaction of knowing that he was in more regular contact with Eleanor than she was. And yet, there was something in his voice, some hitch of desperation that made Lillian fear honestly was required. 'No.'

"The rest of the office faded away. Lillian clutched the phone. 'What do you mean?'

"'She disappeared from the facility. Almost two weeks ago. No one's heard from her since then. Did she tell you where she might have gone?'"

This is more than one of Eleanor's moods—something serious has happened to her. With Max's instructions to travel and to meet him upon arrival, Lillian lies to her mother and flees, worry churning in her gut. After a long and tedious journey, Max is nowhere in sight. What seems hours later, Lillian spots an Army bus approaching. A young woman excitedly runs up, believing her to be Eleanor, and drags her to the vehicle to return to the base. Now she must pass herself off as Eleanor, for no one believes she is Lillian. No one but Max, but where is he?

Arriving at the dorm, Lillian scrabbles through Eleanor's things while her roommate Emmy prattles on. She desperately needs to find a clue as to her sister's location. There is nothing. So Lillian takes on Eleanor's identity, imitating her, hoping to discover her whereabouts. Working at Eleanor's job, she learns of rumors of an affair between Eleanor and Andrew Ennis, a renowned big-wig physicist Lillian would love as a colleague.

Again, where is Max? When she eventually encounters him, he fills her with tales of subterfuge and secret projects allegedly using people as test subjects. Lillian thinks he's crazy and will not listen to his stories. Her search is hopeless, so she hunts down Andrew to see if he and Eleanor are involved. He claims to have no idea where Eleanor is, and, unlike anything Lillian ever experienced, she becomes captivated by the physics genius, soon finding herself working for him, falling under his charms.

When someone besides Eleanor is known missing, Lillian's pulse quickens, and her rational mind points her to trust no one. Her discoveries regarding assignments she once desperately wanted to be part of being brought to light have her rethinking her whole purpose and existence. She now knows she has her work cut out for her—unearth the actual function of this facility.

Although fiction, this comprehensive and descriptive novel demonstrates factual occurrences during the 1940s. At first, Lillian is portrayed as a dedicated scholar intent on making her mark on the world. Yet, as we delve deeper into her relationship with Eleanor, we see she is opinionated, self-centered, and egotistical. Jealousy plays a key role, though her mind focuses on herself as a self-affirmed caretaker of her baby sister and mother. What she deals with throughout her experiences makes her look inward and become more retrospective. For a debut author, "The Woman with Two Shadows" provides a little bit of everything: romance, suspense, and history, along with human emotions, failings, and soul searching. Author Sarah James is someone to be watched.
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This book is an intriguing historical fiction that takes place at Oak Ridge, Tennessee at at the secret government compound where research was being conducted to built a nuclear bomb in 1945.  It provides an interesting look at this place, since I knew little about it. In the novel, Lillian goes there to track down her twin sister who has disappeared.
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The Woman with Two Shadows has got me thinking about the creation of the nuclear bomb. Were the politics that extreme that certain people could get away with anything? Was the town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee really the way the author described it? Did people go missing? Did anyone have to answer to the conditions at Oak Ridge? If I hadn't read The Woman with Two Shadows; I don't think I would have known of the possibilities or wanted to learn more. This is my personal thank you to Sarah James for igniting the desire to know more in a world where we are only taught the highlights of history.

War with Germany has ended but work continues to create the atomic bomb. College students are being recruited to work in a secret location. Lillian, a physics student, passes on the offer, wants to further her education. When her twin sister goes missing at the secret location she has no choice but to go and try to find her.

Lillian's investigation has her discovering secrets that people want to remain secret. She discovers one person's importance trumps everything else. Coverups and conspiracies are hindering her attempts. Doubt clouds her judgement and had me questioning what I thought would be happening. I found myself thinking that I would put it down after I find out what happens next. Then it was another chapter, and then another because the plot thickened, the plot twisted and twisted again.

The author grabbed my attention. She kept me entertained. She created mind blowing situations that kept me thinking. I was invested in the story, and yet I still didn't expect the explosive ending.

Congratulations Sarah James on a fantastic debut novel. I look forward to reading more books in the future.

Please read The Woman with Two Shadows. Realize we should all continue to learn about the past.
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Absolutely one of my favorite books so far this year   The characters of Lillian and Eleanor and their stories were so well developed I felt like I knew them personally.  Historical fiction fans will live this novel   read that will be enjoyed by patrons,   The historical facts, couples with action and mystery will have you throughly invested. Read in one day non stop.

Highly recommend.

A huge thank you to NetGalley, the author, Sarah James, and the publisher, Sourcebooks Landmark, for granting me an advance copy in return for my honest opinion.
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