The Woman with Two Shadows

A Novel of WWII

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Pub Date 26 Jul 2022 | Archive Date 01 Aug 2022
SOURCEBOOKS Landmark, Sourcebooks Landmark

Description

For fans of Atomic City Girls and The Secrets We Kept, a fascinating debut historical novel of one of the most closely held secrets of World War II and a woman caught up in it when she follows her missing sister to the mysterious city of Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Lillian Kaufman hasn't heard from her twin sister since Eleanor left for a mysterious job at an Army base somewhere in Tennessee. When she learns, on an unexpected phone call, that Eleanor is missing, Lillian takes a train from New York down to Oak Ridge to clear up the matter.

It turns out that the only way into Oak Ridge is to assume Eleanor's identity, which Lillian plans to do swiftly and perfectly. But Eleanor has vanished without a trace—and she's not the only one. And how do you find someone in a town so dangerous it doesn't officially exist, when technically you don't exist either?

Lillian is thrust into the epicenter of the gravest scientific undertaking of all time, with no idea who she can trust. And the more she pretends to be Eleanor, the more she loses her grip on herself.

For fans of Atomic City Girls and The Secrets We Kept, a fascinating debut historical novel of one of the most closely held secrets of World War II and a woman caught up in it when she follows her...


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ISBN 9781728249537
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Average rating from 23 members


Featured Reviews

Publication date: July 26, 2022

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review an advanced reader's copy of this book. This in no way affects my review, all opinions are my own and may be affected by the fact that it is snowy, windy and icy outside and we are in lockdown version 5.0, and I have nothing better to do than read three or more books a day??.

Synopsis:
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For fans of ATOMIC CITY GIRLS and THE SECRETS WE KEPT, a fascinating debut historical novel of one of the most closely held secrets of World War II and a woman caught up in it when she follows her missing sister to the mysterious city of Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Lillian Kaufman hasn't heard from her twin sister since Eleanor left for a mysterious job at an Army base somewhere in Tennessee. When she learns, on an unexpected phone call, that Eleanor is missing, Lillian takes a train from New York down to Oak Ridge to clear up the matter.

It turns out that the only way into Oak Ridge is to assume Eleanor's identity, which Lillian plans to do swiftly and perfectly. But Eleanor has vanished without a trace—and she's not the only one. And how do you find someone in a town so dangerous it doesn't officially exist when technically you don't exist either?

Lillian is thrust into the epicentre of the gravest scientific undertaking of all time, with no idea who she can trust. And the more she pretends to be Eleanor, the more she loses her grip on herself.

This was a well-written book but I got confused at keeping Lillian and Eleanor and their stories apart and separate but I am sure that is just my ADHD. It is a great historical fiction read that will be enjoyed by patrons, family, friends and book clubs as it melds history, fiction, danger, desperation and mystery in one single book.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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“The Woman with Two Shadows” is a debut novel by Sarah James.

I had a difficult time keeping Lillian and Eleanor apart for about 20% of this book. Eventually I realized that the main focus was on Lillian trying to find out where Eleanor went. Lillian and Eleanor are identical twins with very different personalities. Lillian is more orderly thinking (science is her jam) while Eleanor is more whatever happens, happens. Lillian gets a phone call from a man Eleanor dated - saying that Eleanor’s gone missing. Lillian decides to go to Oak Ridge, TN in order to find her sister. While in Oak Ridge, Lillian (who is pretending to be Eleanor) learns that Eleanor was seeing a prominent scientist - and Lillian becomes a member of his scientific group. From there, questions arise - what happened to Eleanor? Who are the ‘spies’ in Oak Ridge - and on whose side are they passing on secrets? What is the big secret in Oak Ridge?

That’s the background of the story. I will admit that while I’ve read a tiny bit about Oak Ridge previously, I ended up doing a bit of research online - which at times cleared up what was happening on the pages. I think that Ms. James did a good job at explaining things in Oak Ridge, but for this reader, I needed more to understand what was going on - fission vs fusion was okay, but I actually ended up chatting with a science major friend for further scientific details (unlike Lillian, I don’t think in physics, math, and science - it needs to be explained a lot). There was another part where, I have to admit, I ceased reading and polled a few science friends - none agreed with a point mentioned in the book (it’s minor, but it’s about a safe). I didn’t really find Lillian likable, but I could understand (at times) why she thought and behaved the way she did (although not telling her sister something and then betraying her sister’s trust I found, well, hurtful and odd for someone with such ‘high’ values).

In some ways this book moved along at a slow pace, but then it rather galloped to an ending. I would’ve preferred this book to be more linear in telling - opposed to the flashbacks. I liked the idea of this book, but it didn’t always work in execution. I think I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. As this is Ms. James’s debut novel, I’d read another book by her as I found this, as I said, an interesting idea. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

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I think fans of historical fiction will find much to enjoy in THE WOMAN WITH TWO SHADOWS. The premise is fantastic and I love how the author picked a portion of American history that some readers won't be immediately familiar with. I grew up in western NC so I have heard about Oak Ridge but didn't, of course, know the details of what went on there.

I also really enjoyed the missing sister aspect to the plot, which keeps the reader turning the pages.

Like other early readers, I had a little bit of a hard time keeping the characters straight at first, but I quickly settled in to the narrative.

I look forward to reading more from this author.

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Lillian, the main character of the book and most certainly the main character in her own world isn't very likeable in my mind. Early in life she is deeply affected by her father's death and mother's existence thereafter. As a twin she makes the decision that she must be responsible for her sister Eleanor.
This is an interesting enough story. Unraveling threads give hints as to why Lillian is driven to find her missing twin. Her journey into a secret military 'town' crosses paths with Eleanor's former boyfriend and the new man her family has no knowledge of. Lillian becomes acquainted with the head of the top-secret project her sister went to work in. Andrew is intriguing and at least equal to her intelligence level. In ways he is like her. Self- centered, self-important. As she has assumed her sister's identity things get intense. The reader learns about the historical significance of this project and how it marks the world and it's future. The descriptive writing about the life and 'job' was quite interesting to me.

I want to thank NetGalley and the publisher for my advanced reader's copy of this book. If nothing else, it has made me think. I learned something years ago and that is that no character can be perfect. No character can be all evil nor can one be all good. This story shows this very well. There is a lot going on in this story. In my honest opinion there was no main character who I cared about. I'm not sorry I read the book. It is different. You will have to make your own decision if you would find it interesting.

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