Reviewed by Emma Crowley
Identical twins, Sinéad and Sheila Fields, have always done everything together and so, after graduating in millinery, they decide to open their own hat shop. It's a small business but thanks to hard work and talent, they build up a loyal clientele. Then one day a glamorous young actress buys one of their hats, wears it to the Baftas and suddenly success seems guaranteed.
But within weeks, tragedy strikes when Sheila disappears, and is presumed dead. After months of desolation, Sinéad is just beginning to come to terms with her loss when she is given new hope: there has been a sighting of her sister. While she is filled with excitement at the thought that Sheila might be alive, she is haunted by questions. Why would Sheila have deserted her twin without a word? After all, they had always told each other everything … hadn't they?
First We Take Manhattan is the thirteenth novel from Colette Caddle. Unlucky for some but not Colette, she has played another blinder and this is a fantastic book from start to finish. I loved every page and didn’t want it to end reading it within a day. Right from the opening line I was hooked and lost all track of time immersed in the world of the Field sisters and a wonderful cast of supporting characters. This is a gripping, intriguing novel full of secrets, tension and mystery focusing on a family who have many things to hide which has devastating consequences on all aspects of their lives. Of course some romance thrown in along the way all helps to create an enthralling novel.
It’s hard to explain much about the story without giving away spoilers but this book introduces us to twins Sinéad and Sheila who are just on the cusp of making it big in the fashion industry designing hats when Sheila mysteriously disappears . Her car with her purse and passport is found abandoned near the coast and after much searching she is presumed dead - drowned at sea even though no body was ever found. When we meet Sinéad she is devastated and distraught at the loss of her sister. She is spiralling out of control leaving the millinery business to fall to rack and ruin. Her boyfriend Dylan does his best to help her get back on track but is Sinéad willing to listen or will she lose Dylan too? How can she go on without her twin sister to guide and support her?
The loss of Sheila is tearing the family apart but at the same time secrets are becoming exposed making family members realise not everyone is as they seem and we all have secrets we keep and for very good reason. In the beginning I really wanted to shout at Sinéad to just get on with it, get out of your small world of despair and try and move on because that was what your sister would have wanted but as the story progressed we see a slow change in Sinead thanks to Krystie.
Krystie is like a ray of light and fresh air when she enters the story. She is a bright eager, vivacious young girl who having been fired from her alterations job in Manhattan returns home to Ireland searching for work. Pure chance has her meeting Sinéad and soon she is putting her design skills to good use hoping to change the fortunes of the hat shop whilst maybe experiencing some romance along the way. But something is nagging at Krystie a familiar face she glimpsed in New York - should she say anything or would it hinder not help this family in crisis and freefall?
Sheila’s dad Kieran and brother Max cannot believe Sheila has gone so suddenly from their lives especially as tragedy had previously befallen the family in years gone by. Philip a politician in the Irish government is Sheila’s husband but Sinéad has her suspicions as to how honourable he really is. This cast of supporting characters were superb and each had their own problems to overcome which only added to the overall tension and suspense through the book.
Colette Caddle has created a cast of engrossing characters. I was rooting for each one to get their happy ending. But there were so many twists and turns (in a good way) I just didn’t know how the story was going to end. Yes you were drip fed hints throughout the story making you believe one thing or another but not everyone was as they seemed. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, another twist which I did not see coming was thrown in, which made me re-evaluate everything and everyone and kept me guessing right up until the very end. If you haven’t read anything by Colette Caddle before, this book is the perfect place to start, it was a thrilling rollercoaster of a read. If you want a fast paced, riveting story then First We Take Manhattan is the book for you.
I'd like to thank Emma for reviewing this eBook which we received from the publisher via NetGalley.