Jan 8, 2015

White Feathers by Susan Lanigan

Two lives in danger – her lover’s and her sister’s. But she must choose only one.

In 1913, young Irish emigrant Eva Downey is trapped in London with a remote father and hostile stepmother. When she is awarded a legacy from an old suffragette to attend a finishing school in Kent, she jumps at the chance. At the school, she finds kinship and later falls in love with her teacher Christopher Shandlin, her intellectual equal.
But when war does break out, her fanatical and disapproving stepsister Grace forces a choice on Eva. She must present Shandlin, who refuses to fight, with a white feather of cowardice, or no money will be given for her sister Imelda’s life-saving treatment in Switzerland. Caught in a dilemma, she chooses her sister over her lover, a decision which will have irrevocable consequences for both her and Christopher and haunt her for the rest of her life.


Eva Downey's stepmother hates her and the same goes for her stepsister Grace, together they're trying to make Eva's life as difficult as possible. Eva's father doesn't care much about his two other daughters, he's too preoccupied with work and his wife. Eva's sister Imelda's health has been an issue all of her life and she isn't feeling very well when Eva finally has the chance to leave her much hated home. She's received a scholarship to go to finishing school. As an Irish girl in England it isn't always easy to make friends, especially not when you're also the smartest one there, but Eva manages to befriend a very popular and rich girl. She's having the best time studying and all of her teachers encourage her, but there's one in particular, Christopher Shandlin. Soon Christopher and Eva discover that they have a lot in common and they start to become something more than teacher and pupil.

Eva's not allowed to finish her time at school as her family manages to find a way to make her come home again. Imelda needs her and Eva is a loving and dutiful sister, so she doesn't complain, but she also doesn't have much of a choice. After a few hurdles she and Christopher are getting back in touch. Her stepmother wants Eva to marry a horrible man, but Eva has other plans. Their country is at war and Grace is handing out white feathers to men who don't want to fight. Eva doesn't like this behavior at all, which is the perfect reason for Grace to make her life a living hell. She forces Eva to choose between her lover and her sister. Grace has the family money and enough funds to pay for Imelda's treatment, but she will only do that under one condition. The decision Eva has to make will have grave consequences and she will never be the same again.

Eva's family members are cruel. Her father is indifferent, his wife hates Eva and she and Grace can do anything they like to her as he won't do anything to protect his daughter. That was heartbreaking to read about. White Feathers is a beautiful story about a difficult love that keeps burning strong even though there are so many obstacles. The question is if these obstacles can be overcome. I couldn't stop reading until I knew what would happen to both Eva and Christopher. They each have a place in my heart. They're such endearing main characters, who simply aren't able to win every battle that comes their way. Eva is smart and she has great ideas, but she knows she has to give up her dreams as she isn't strong enough to stand up to her stepmother and stepsister all by herself. Friendhip and love are keeping her alive during everything she's going through and that makes this novel so romantic and hopeful. I loved this story and can't praise it enough, it's really fantastic.


  1. Wow sounds amazing xx

  2. It is, you will love it, I'm 100% sure of it!

  3. Margaret Bonass MaddenJanuary 8, 2015 at 10:47 PM

    One of my favourite reads of 2014. So glad you enjoyed it too xxx


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