Wartime Sisters (Loigman)

The Wartime Sisters 
Lynda Cohen Loigman, 2019
St. Martin Press
304 pp.

A powerful novel about two sisters working in a WWII armory, each with a deep secret.

Two estranged sisters, raised in Brooklyn and each burdened with her own shocking secret, are reunited at the Springfield Armory in the early days of WWII.

While one sister lives in relative ease on the bucolic Armory campus as an officer’s wife, the other arrives as a war widow and takes a position in the Armory factories as a "soldier of production." Resentment festers between the two, and secrets are shattered when a mysterious figure from the past reemerges in their lives. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Birth—ca. 1969
Where—Longmeadow, Massachusetts, USA
Education—B.A., Harvard College; J.D., Columbia Law School
Currently—lives in Chappaqua, NY

Lynda Cohen Loigman grew up in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. She received a B.A. in English and American Literature from Harvard College and a law degree from Columbia Law School. She practiced trusts and estates law in New York City for eight years before moving out of the city to raise her two children with her husband.

Loigman wrote The Two-Family House while she was a student of the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. The novel was chosen by Goodreads as a best book of the month for March, 2016, and was nominee for the Goodreads 2016 Choice Awards in Historical Fiction. The Wartime Sisters is her second novel.

Book Reviews
The Wartime Sisters is an indictment of how we judge others by their looks. Lynda Loigman explores the roles women played during World War II and won freedom. Never ever the role of women during World War II was explained in such a brilliant way in a book of fiction.
Washington Book Review

Historical fiction fans will love Lynda Cohen Loigman's The Wartime Sisters―a fresh take on the World War II novel. Sisters Ruth and Millie find themselves back in each other's lives after a long estrangement when Millie and her son turn up on Ruth's doorstep needing a place to stay. While the two help the war effort by working at an armory factory in Massachusetts, their past secrets bubble to the surface.
Real Simple

This touching book tells the story of two sisters who are reunited during World War II. The problem (other than, you know, war)? One sister is living the "good" life as an officer's wife, while the other is a factory worker―causing understandable tension that strains their bond. Read this, and then give your own sister a call.
Woman's Day

Estranged sisters seek connection and purpose at the Springfield Armory during the tumult of WWII…. With measured, lucid prose, Loigman tells a moving story of women coming together in the face of difficulties, both personal and global, and doing anything to succeed.
Publishers Weekly

Loigman provides a behind-the-scenes look, in alternating points of view, at women fighting their own wars at home.… [A] heartfelt picture of women's daily life during wartime through the eyes of two extraordinary sisters. —Laura Jones, Argos Community Schs., IN
Library Journal

With a perceptive lens on the challenges of whittling away grievances that have built up over years, The Wartime Sisters is a powerful pressure cooker of a family drama.

[F]our women negotiate the World War II homefront.… The stark, painful depiction of "looks-ism," 1930s style, undercuts the anodyne message of the novel's resolution. Though it highlights historic advances for women, this book is really about gender discrimination in the home.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
1. What is it about the sisters’ relationship that makes it so ripe for storytelling?

2. Throughout their childhood, Ruth and Millie’s mother has vastly different expectations for them, especially in terms of the kind of men they will marry. Do you think she bears some of the blame for the poor relationship between her daughters? What about their father?

3. When Millie first meets Lenny, she is lonely and mourning the loss of her neighbor. Why else do you think Millie falls for Lenny? Why does she agree to marry him?

4. Do you think it was wrong of Ruth’s mother to expect her to bring Millie with her to her new home? Why was it so important for Ruth to have a fresh start in Springfield? Did being Jewish make it harder for Ruth to ft in at the armory?

5. Do you think Ruth’s lies to Lenny and her sister are excusable? If you were Millie, would you ever be able to forgive Ruth for what she did?

6. Do you think Millie’s secrets about Lenny and her marriage are more or less justifiable than the secrets Ruth keeps?

7. In what ways do Arietta and Lillian serve as substitute sisters for Millie? Why do you think they are so protective of her? How does the war bring these women together?

8. How does Lillian’s past shape her as an adult? Do you think she would have been able to defend Millie the way she does at the end of the story had it not been for her own unfortunate childhood experiences?

9. Ruth and Millie can’t seem to escape the roles they took on as children. Do you think family members always fall into set patterns of behavior? Can the patterns ever be broken, or are we destined to play the same roles within our family units from childhood through old age?

10. When Millie first arrives in Springfield, she has no money and almost no luggage. Do you think Ruth truly understands Millie’s predicament? Should she have been more generous? Why are class differences among adult family members so difficult to overcome?

11. How do Grace’s prejudices affect her actions? Why do you think she was so jealous of Millie? Should Ruth have come to her sister’s defense sooner?

12. Do you think Millie and Ruth will be able to move beyond their past grievances and have a sincere and positive relationship in the future?
(Questions issued by the publisher.)

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