It’s a real pleasure to be joining the blog tour today for Sisters of Berlin by Juliet Conlin, published for kindle on 25th March by Black & White Publishing: the paperback was published on 16th April, and is available through all major retailers (and, when the current situation ends, via the publisher’s website). My thanks to Kelly at #LoveBooksTours for the invitation and support. I do wish I could have read this one – I’ve seen some excellent reviews – but my reading seems to be on rather a go-slow at the moment, and I’d really like to try and catch up with it later.
Berlin 2014. The 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, and the city is gearing up for a celebration of unity and liberation. But, beneath the surface, are those for whom the divisions and allegiances of the past remain close to home.
In her hushed and leafy corner of Berlin, Nina’s life is a comfortable, conventional one– until her younger sister Marie, a free-spirited writer, is attacked and left for dead.
For Nina, Marie’s brutal demise – and that of her unborn child – tips her own carefully controlled life into a nightmare. Stonewalled by official incompetence and subterfuge,
Nina begins to realise that her sister’s past and the secrets of the once-divided city are connected in unimaginable ways. As she seeks out justice for Marie, Nina becomes caught in a tangle of obsessions, lies and hidden truths that threatens to destroy her marriage, her livelihood and all that she holds dear.
So, no review today – but I’m delighted to welcome author Juliet Conlin as my guest to tell us more…
Sisters of Berlin is set in contemporary Berlin, and tells the story of Nina Bergmann, whose beloved younger sister is attacked and left for dead. Stonewalled by official incompetence and subterfuge, Nina begins to realise that her sister’s past and the secrets of the once-divided city are connected in unimaginable ways. As she seeks out justice for Marie, Nina becomes caught in a tangle of obsessions, lies and hidden truths that threatens to destroy her marriage, her livelihood and all that she holds dear.
A central premise of the novel is sisterhood. Sibling relationships have always fascinated me (I have two sisters myself, and also four children, who are the best of friends!), because they are unlike any other relationship we may have during our lifetime. While we choose our friends and rely on our parents, siblings are a part of our lives neither by choice nor necessity. In evolutionary terms, they represent competition for our parents’ attention. Younger siblings can resent older siblings because they always seem a step ahead, or because they have greater privileges (staying out later, getting more pocket money). In turn, older siblings might feel usurped by the arrival of a new addition to the family. It can also be a relationship that is completely uninhibited and fiercely loyal. We see each other’s best sides and worst sides, and on occasion, we feel confusion for loving and hating the same person (often at the same time!). Often, our brother or sister will know how we’re feeling even before we tell them. They just … know.
However, when a sibling dies before their time, this can be felt as a crushing loss. When researching for the book, I came across this (unreferenced) quote: “When a parent dies, you lose the past. When a child dies, you lose the future. When a sibling dies, you lose the past and the future.” In Sisters of Berlin, this is exactly what happens to my main character, Nina Bergmann. When her sister Marie dies, Nina’s world changes in a heartbeat. She has many roles – as a mother, a wife, a daughter and a doctor – and as she struggles with her loss, she finds it increasingly impossible to fulfil what is expected of her, and misses the support of her beloved sister all the more acutely. The novel focuses on the particular kind of grief experienced by a sibling – grief for what was past, and grief for what should have been the future.
I hope my readers enjoy the book and would particularly love to hear from readers who are siblings themselves, and to hear if they recognise anything in Sisters of Berlin from their own sibling relationships.
About the author
Juliet Conlin was born in London and grew up in England and Germany. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and a PhD in Psychology from the University of Durham. She works as a writer and translator and lives with her family in Berlin. Her novels include The Fractured Man (Cargo, 2013), The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days (Black & White, 2017), The Lives Before Us (Black & White, 2019).
About the publisher
Black & White Publishing was founded in 1999 by Managing Director Campbell Brown and Publishing Director Alison McBride. Since then, the business has grown into one of Scotland’s leading independent publishers with over 300 books in print across a variety of genres. Committed to publishing the best books from the most talented writers in the UK and beyond, some of our bestselling authors include Daniela Sacerdoti, James Robertson, Estelle Maskame, Nick Alexander, Richard Gordon, Alex Norton, Millie Gray, Sally Magnusson and Tony Black. We produce an extensive range of titles, including general non-fiction, biography, sport and humour, as well as selected fiction, young adult and children’s books.
This year, we’ve started an exciting new alliance with PGUK who now provide sales representation for our titles, and GBS continue to distribute our books. Our eBooks are distributed by Faber Factory. Over recent years, our range of fiction has grown following recent eBook successes such as Daniela Sacerdoti’s Glen Avich series, which has sold nearly a million copies to date. These new alliances and our e-book successes are helping us shape and develop the list in new ways to bring more exciting new titles to both local and global markets.