Highland Sisters

Written by Anne Douglas
Review by Sarah Johnson

Set in the Scottish Highlands and Edinburgh as the Edwardian era winds down, Douglas’s concise yet engaging romantic novel follows a young woman’s path to fulfillment and illustrates the pain of unrequited love. Lorne Malcolm’s decision to run away with her employer’s son on her wedding morning shocks her older sister, Rosa, and devastates her fiancé, Daniel MacNeil. A housemaid in Inverness, Rosa can’t comprehend Lorne’s self-centeredness, especially since handsome Daniel is quite a catch. Some months later, when Daniel begins courting Rosa, she is thrilled but wary; in his proposal, he asks her to help him forget Lorne, which isn’t the most promising beginning.

They marry and move into a big-city tenement, and the story is sympathetic toward Rosa, left alone all day while Daniel works. Her pursuit of a job outside the home gives her purpose but adds complications to their marriage, since Daniel proves resistant, and she still isn’t certain of his love. The theme of women’s early 20th-century roles figures strongly. Despite some repetitive descriptions, the plotline is eventful and pleasingly unpredictable. Douglas evokes period mores through her characters’ personalities and actions: they may not discuss their feelings openly but yearn for happiness all the same.