Book Review: Sisters of Heart and Snow
Book title: Sister of Heart and Snow
Author: Margaret Dilloway
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Sisters of Heart and Snow
By Margaret Dilloway
Reviewed by Mary Jeneverre Schultz
Sometimes, inspiration comes from out of nowhere. Other times, inspiration is earth-shattering.
In author Margaret Dilloway’s case, her inspiration comes from a simple conversation with her father about the lineage of her family’s past.
“My father had told us only a couple of years ago that my mother was from a samurai family, which my brother and I didn’t know before,” said Dilloway in a phone interview.
Before setting out to write her third novel, Dilloway researched her mother’s past. She found her lineage traced to the legendary female samurai Tomoe Gozen. Her mother of Japanese descent, passed away when Dilloway was 20. She is currently 41 years old.
Her research included Internet searches, a book about female samurais, and historical writings. “I discovered not much is known about Tome Gozen,” Dilloway said. “Other historians did not believe she was real.”
But Dilloway felt a connection to her and her Japanese heritage. Through her newest book, she weaved a story between a contemporary setting of two sisters in San Diego and the historical setting of samurais during the 12th century.
“I wanted it to be relatable to the modern woman,” she said, adding the readers who enjoy family drama and the unfolding historical fiction would savor the story. “It’s sorta more adventurous story than a typical woman fiction.”
The contemporary story takes two sisters, who were close growing up, but are divided as adults in careers, lifestyles and different paths. Dilloway admits struggling to write about the sister relationship because in her own life, she grew up with two brothers. But she takes inspiration from her own two daughters.
In the story, the daughters come together when their mother, Hikari gives the older sister power of attorney, dividing the sisters more.
In a rare lucid moment, Hikari asks her daughters to find a book from her sewing room, containing old photos and an ancient text, which reveals the story of Tome Gozen and her epic saga of love, loss and conflict during 12th century Japan.
As the sisters work out the puzzle of the ancient text’s meaning, they find inspiration in the life of the warrior woman, and in the process, unearth truths about their relationship that resonate across the centuries and connect them, turning their differences into assets.
The moving story solicited emotional responses from Dilloway’s fans. Readers told Dilloway hat after finishing the book, they called their sisters.
Drawing inspiration from her mother’s life, Dilloway confessed she was not close to her mother when she was a teenager. “She had a different concept of what it meant to be a young lady and be proper in the “American” way,” Dilloway said. “We had miscommunication and language barriers.”
The year her mother passed away, Dilloway said, “We were just starting to be friends.”
How to Be an American Housewife and Sisters of Heart and Snow allows Dilloway a way to connect with her mother, drawing inspiration from her life.
About the Author
Dilloway, a resident of Southern California, teaches creative writing classes at San Diego Writers Ink and to high school students at her alma mater. She recently signed a 2-book deal with Disney-Hyperion for a middle-grade fantasy series that is scheduled for publication in June 2016. Her previous books include: How to be an American Housewife and The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns.