Book Review: My Mother’s Shadow by Nikola Scott

Title: My Mother’s Shadow
Author: Nikola Scott
Publisher: Headline Review
Publication Date: 30 May 2017
Rating: 4 out of 5
Hartland House has always been a faithful keeper of secrets…
1958. Sent to beautiful Hartland to be sheltered from her mother’s illness, Liz spends the summer with the wealthy Shaw family. They treat Liz as one of their own, but their influence could be dangerous…
Now. Addie believes she knows everything about her mother Elizabeth and their difficult relationship until her recent death. When a stranger appears claiming to be Addie’s sister, she is stunned. Is everything she’s been told about her early life a lie?
How can you find the truth about the past if the one person who could tell you is gone? Addie must go back to that golden summer her mother never spoke of…and the one night that changed a young girl’s life for ever. 

My Mother’s Shadow is the captivating debut novel from German author, Nikola Scott.
The tale is one of a secret carried over generations, and the hurt that such secrets can cause to those we leave behind. It tells how some experiences can turn into a burden spanning an entire lifetime.
We join Addie on the first anniversary of her mother’s death. Her demanding sister, Venetia, is about to give birth, her brother Jas is occupied with his career, her best friend Andrew is pushing her into a venture that just does not feel right and her father is sinking into a shell of the man he used to be. Addie has enough on her plate without a surprise visitor dredging up long-hidden family secrets.
The story is told as a dual-narrative, taking the reader through a journey from past to present, flitting seamlessly between Addie’s point-of-view in the present and entries from her deceased mother’s diary in 1958. The author slowly peels back the layers, allowing only brief glimpses into the past and therefore enabling the tale to retain an element of mystery and intrigue. The reader is shown how the past has come to have such a significant affect upon the present and how it has shaped the lives of those persons touched by this secret. The tale really captured my imagination and I struggled to put the book down.
One thing that struck me from the story is just how different attitudes were in the 1950’s. It surprised me to think that my own mother was born during that era and I now realise the lack of freedom that women of my grandmother’s generation could have been subjected to at that time. Fortunately both my great-grandparents and my grandfather were all advocates of education and women being allowed to entertain proper careers!
The twin aspect was also of interest to me. I am a non-identical twin myself and, whilst we have some similarities in attitude, people are often amazed at how different my sister and I are in nature, despite having the benefit of an identical upbringing. It has often made me wonder what similarities may have remained had we been brought up separately. The ‘nature vs nurture’ argument is always intriguing to me and this tale does briefly speculate on a ‘sliding doors’ scenario, i.e. what would have happened if Addie and Phoebe had switch places at birth.
One final plus point for me was Nikola’s use of language. The tale is beautifully written with an elegant and compelling prose evoking colourful pictures of an idyllic English summer, full of picnics, jaunts to the seaside and first love.
I thoroughly enjoyed My Mother’s Shadow. It is a truly gripping and beautifully written story of family and secrets. A great debut from Nikola Scott and one which I would highly recommend.
About the Author
Nikola Scott was born and raised in Germany and studied at university there. Having been obsessed with books from a young age, Nikola moved to New York City after her Master’s degree to begin her first job in book publishing – a career in which she could fully indulge her love of fiction. She spent ten years working in publishing in New York and then in London, editing other people’s books, before she decided to take the leap into becoming a full-time writer herself. She now lives in Frankfurt with her husband and two sons.
MY MOTHER’S SHADOW is her debut novel.
You can visit Nikola’s website and you can find her on Twitter @nikola_scott and Facebook/NikolaScottAuthor.   
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