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Sisters of Belfast
a novel by Melanie Maure

The story of Aelish and Isabel McGuire is a story of faith—in religion, in the world, and in one another—Sisters of Belfast is a heartbreaking, tragic, and deeply moving novel about survival and the enduring power of sisterhood.


A bit about Sisters of Belfast

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Sisters of Belfast

February 27, 2024

In the spirit of Heather Morris, Kate Quinn, and Pam Jenoff, an enthralling and deeply moving story that begins during World War II, about orphaned twin sisters in Ireland whose lives diverge for decades, until fate—and faith—reunite them in the twilight of their lives.

Orphaned during the Second World War, Aelish and Isabel McGuire are given over to the austere care of the Sisters of Bethlehem. Though they are each all the other has, the girls are propelled in opposite directions as they grow up. Rebellious Isabel turns her back on the church and Ireland, traveling to Newfoundland where she pursues a perilous yet independent life. Devout Aelish chooses to remain in Northern Ireland and takes the veil, burying painful truths beneath years of silence. For decades, the two are separated, each unaware of the other’s life. But after years of isolation, Aelish is unexpectedly summoned to Newfoundland, where she and her estranged sister begin to bridge the chasm between them.

Reunion brings to light the painful secrets and seismic deceptions that have kept these sisters apart, leaving the McGuire twins to begin reconstructing their understanding about themselves as women and as family–what they know of love, hope, and above all, forgiveness.

"Tragedy is at the heart of Maure’s powerful debut novel...Despite its bleak storyline, this is an achingly beautiful novel about redemption and the power of sisterhood."  The Washington Post

"A blistering debut that exposes the legacy of institutional cruelty and the emotional strength of its survivors."  The Toronto Star

"The quality of writing in this debut shines through. Maure has a great feel for language and creating flawed but engaging characters. It will be exciting to see what she writes next."  Historical Novel Society


About Melanie


As a novelist and life coach, Melanie sees the power of storytelling and soulful growth come together. Her passion for writing, history, and helping others express and discover their dreams intersect in a unique way. Melanie believes that everyone has a story worth telling, that there are untold stories in history worth uncovering, and that by sharing those stories, we can grow our humanity and connect on a deeper level. Whether you are looking for an enthralling read or a soulful life change, you have come to the right place.

News and Events

Join me in Celebrating Sisters of Belfast!

Nelson, BC

Kelowna, BC

Chatham, Ont.

Notably, A Book Lover's Emporium

March 7th @ 7:00 pm- 8:30 pm

Seating is limited!

Reserve your Free ticket here.

Nelson Public Library

February 28th @ 7:00 pm

Open to the public

Train Station Pub

March 14th @ 7:00 pm- close!

Open to the public

Musical Guests: JoshandBex

Turns and Tales, Chatham

March 23rd @ 7:00 pm- close!

Open to the public

Musical Guests: Milhouse

Lake Country Public Library

March 13th @ 1:00 pm-2:30 pm

Hosted by celebrated Canadian Author

Alix Hawley

Open to the public

Dresden Public Library

March 19th 3:15 pm

Open to the public

Kelowna Public Library

March 16th @ 11:00 am-12:30 pm

Open to the public

Thamesville Public Library

March 21st 3:00 pm

Open to the public

Book Club Guide

Book Club Reading Guide

Questions and Topics for Discussion:


Sisters of Belfast offers a complex mix of love stories from various female characters. Which character’s story or inner life were you most able to relate to and why? While we are often repelled by certain people in our lives and in works of fiction, there is the possibility that these people and characters have something to teach us about ourselves. Was this true of any characters you encountered in this novel and how so?


At the core of this work of fiction is the very real, present and divisive topic of women’s reproductive rights. Discuss the novel’s portrayal of this issue in that era and your thoughts and feelings about the progress or lack thereof in today’s society.


Discuss the relationship between Aelish and Izzy. Were there anything moments in their story that particularly resonated with you? Did you side with one sister over the other and if so, why?


The best novels are often the ones that have us feel deeply and be haunted by a character or topic, whether it be anger, love, frustration, sorrow, or endearment. Did you experienced any of these, and if so, who or what evoked a reaction from you and why?



Within Sisters of Belfast there are several subplots of unrequited love. One of which is the unrequited love between Sister Mike and Charlie Rose. What thoughts, feelings, judgments did you have about this particular story line? Have you ever been on either side of an unrequited love?


Sisters of Belfast has a few antagonists. Some blatant such as Sister Edel, and Declan’s parents, while others are more obscure yet just as powerful such as the religious community. Discuss how these important antagonistic elements deepened the story. What thought or perspectives did their actions or way of moving through the world provoke in you? Were there any points at which you found yourself with any compassion for them?


Discuss the hidden affection Aelish carries for Declan. Was she wise in keeping this love to herself and getting out of Isabel’s way to love and happiness? Was Isabel selfish in taking Declan for her own, knowing somewhere inside that her twin had feelings for him? Do you believe that our fate can be altered by another?


Sisters of Belfast holds many flawed, yet endearing characters stitched together from factual accounts and journalistic narratives of those who experienced the mother and baby homes in Ireland. Not the least of which is sweet Leena. Knowing that her story is based on some very harsh truths, what impact did Leena have on you? Discuss your awareness or lack of awareness around this tragic piece of history and how it might be reflected in the historical mosaic of your home country.


Discuss any moments of surprise or unexpectedness in Sisters of Belfast. What emotions were evoked by these moments in the story? Did it change your initial perspective about certain characters and their life choices?

Download the PDF for your Bookclub


For any United States media inquiries, please contact: Emi Battaglia, Publicist

For any Canadian media inquiries, please contact: Shayla Leung, Publicist

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