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Sisters of Heart and Snow Summary and Reviews

Sisters of Heart and Snow

by Margaret Dilloway

Sisters of Heart and Snow by Margaret Dilloway X
Sisters of Heart and Snow by Margaret Dilloway
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2015
    400 pages
    Genre: Novels

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About this book

Book Summary

The award-winning author of How to Be an American Housewife returns with a poignant story of estranged sisters, forced together by family tragedy, who soon learn that sisterhood knows no limits.

Rachel and Drew Snow may be sisters, but their lives have followed completely different paths.

Married to a wonderful man and a mother to two strong-minded teens, Rachel hasn't returned to her childhood home since being kicked out by her strict father after an act of careless teenage rebellion. Drew, her younger sister, followed her passion for music but takes side jobs to make ends meet and longs for the stability that has always eluded her. Both sisters recall how close they were, but the distance between them seems more than they can bridge. When their deferential Japanese mother, Hikari, is diagnosed with dementia and gives Rachel power of attorney, Rachel's domineering father, Killian becomes enraged.

In a rare moment of lucidity, Hikari asks Rachel for a book in her sewing room, and Rachel enlists her sister's help in the search. The book which tells the tale of real-life female samurai Tomoe Gozen, an epic saga of love, loss, and conflict during twelfth-century Japan, reveals truths about Drew and Rachel's relationship that resonate across the centuries, connecting them in ways that turn their differences into assets.

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Some of the recent comments posted about Sisters of Heart and Snow:

Can you think of other books you've enjoyed that discussed similar themes or were similar in style?
This book was a dime a dozen, typical formulaic contemporary fiction. Names of examples escape me at the moment. - mal

Did you like the book? Love it? Hate it? Would you recommend it to others?
I found it interesting that so many reviewers did not like flipping through stories. To me it seems to be common now. While the disjunction in the family caused predictable responses I did enjoy the book. - swchis39

Did you sympathize more with Rachel or with Drew?
Rachel because of the trauma of being thrown out of the home at such a young age. - kathleenb

Do you see parallels between the stories of Tomoe, and Rachel and Drew
Tomoe and Kamabuki were a team. Kamabuki worked from home and did the feminine side of things that needed doing and was the close friend and "sister of heart" for Tomoe. Rachel and Drew needed to get close just like Tomoe and Kamabuki originally did... - kathleenb

Do you think it would be worth becoming a mail-order bride if you were faced with similar circumstances?
I believe Hikari did the only thing she could under the circumstances. Only she knew what her life was going to be like if she didn't find a way out. I think she must have had some hope, that she might find a man who would at least treat her with ... - reene

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Media Reviews

"Spanning centuries, Dilloway's intricate, multigenerational saga of repressive family dynamics offers a timeless look at the bonds of sisterhood." - Booklist

"In this enjoyable novel, imperfect and at times unlikable women become lovable." - Kirkus

"A skillfully woven tale where the lore of a twelfth-century female samurai helps two present-day sisters release the past and heal their fractured lives. Vivid, detailed, and historically fascinating." - Beth Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of Looking for Me

"I deeply admire Margaret Dilloway's deftness in braiding together past and present, but what I love best about this book is that every relationship rings true, particularly the complicated bonds of sisterhood." - Marisa de los Santos, New York Times bestselling author of Love Walked In and Belong to Me

"Dilloway's historical tale of legendary love and loss illuminates a modern-day struggle between sisters - both the intense conflict and devotion." - Julie Kibler, author of Calling Me Home

The information about Sisters of Heart and Snow shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Diane S

Sisters of Heart and Snow
It is always tricky when writing a story with two very different time lines, usually I end up liking one way more than the other. In this case I likes them both and they complimented each other very well. Present day finds two sisters trying to regain a relationship to help their mother who is in a convalescent center, remembers very little and is fading fast. In one of her normal moments she asks her daughter to find a book that is in her sewing room. This starts a journey onto the past, back to the days of the samurai, and a very special woman who was a female warrior.

Interesting back stories, present and past, but this book is about relationships.
Sisters of blood, or sisters that you come to love and care for, protect and defend. And of course the relationships, so often complicated between mothers and daughters. The father in this book was a major piece of work and I really wished bad things for him, but maybe loneliness as he ages will ne his just punishment.

Good book, probably my favorite by this author.

Betty Taylor

Learning Love from a Samurai
This is an absolutely beautifully written book. Sometimes the words just took my breath away. The Snow sisters, Rachel and Drew, are very different from each other and have fought a lot throughout their lives. But now they are drawn together as their mother, Haruki, falls deeper and deeper into the depths of dementia. The sisters are united in ensuring their mother continues to get the best care possible, while their father Killian is only concerned about the expense.

During one of Rachel’s visit with her mother, Hakuri asks for a book that is in her sewing room. Then she sinks back into her dementia. Rachel and Drew find the book; however, it is written in Japanese. Thus they find a translator who feeds them portions of the book as he completes the translation.

The story in the book is from twelfth-century Japan, and tells of two “sisters of the heart”. Tomoe, a female warrior, loves Yoshinaka but can bear him no children. Thus, he brings a bride, Yamabuki, to his home. At first Tomoe sees Yamabuki as a threat but eventually she learns to love her as a sister. Tomoe is torn between always being at the side of her samurai lover Yoshinaka or staying to protect delicate Yamabuki. However, the women find strength from each other to deal with formerly foreign ways of life.

“Sisters of the Heart and Snow” alternates between the stories of the Snow sisters and the story they read of the “sisters of the heart”. Both Rachel and Drew draw strength from the story of Tomoe and all her trials and tribulations. They even learn about sisterly love from the story of real-life female samurai Tomoe Gozen. Rachel and Drew use the book to better understand their relationship with their mother and with each other.

Veronica E

Sisters of Heart and Snow
I so enjoyed this novel. It is about a father, mother (Japanese) and two sisters. The mother is in a nursing home with Alzheimers and on one good day she tells one of her daughters about a book that is hidden in her sewing room. The sisters find the book which is written in Japanese. This is where the novel truly begins as the book that the sisters find tells the history of a woman warrior Tome and the relationship to their mother. The two sisters renew their lost relationship while finding out the secrets of the past. This is a story of love, hope, and forgiveness throughout. A beautiful novel.

Sally H.

Sisters of Heart and Snow
I would give this book a 4.5 - good enough that after finishing it, I immediately bought the author's first book. This was a very compelling story; one of those books that is very difficult to put down. The characters and story both felt real and believable. There were a couple of things I found slightly distracting about the writing: the parts of the story that occurred in San Diego in the present day were sometimes narrated in the third person and sometimes by Rachel in the first person. Since the point of view wasn't identified in the chapter headings (as the time and place were), this inconsistency was sometimes a bit difficult to follow. The author's tenses were also inconsistent at times. I read an uncorrected proof, so perhaps these issues will be resolved before publication along with typos and other minor errors. In any case, they didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the book, and I recommended it to my book club.

reene s

Sisters of Heart and Snow
The story takes us beyond sisterhood into the dynamics of family life. In this case the dynamics of a multi-cultural family. Actually families would be more accurate. One present day and one from the 1100's. I found the present day family to be much more interesting and became involved in their lives. It was difficult to make the transition back to the earlier family and the connection between the two stories often blurred. The focus of the story, the bonding between sisters is always apparent.

Beverly M

Sisters of Heart and Snow
Rated 2. Too predictable - sisters who are once close, now distanced, brought together by a real family situation in the present with a contrived family solution from the past.

...1 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Margaret Dilloway

Margaret Dilloway is the author of How to Be an American Housewife and The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns. She lives in California with her husband and their three children. Visit her at

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