Publication Date
Publication Status
Out of print
Crime & mystery
Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
Trim Size
216 x 138mm

Sister Sebastian’s Library


All is not what it seems in this gripping novel about two sisters’ lives: one who leaves her secular Catholic life to become a nun in deepest Africa, and her sister who goes to search for her when she goes missing.

Elodie O’Shea abandons her children to her estranged husband to go on the search for her sister, Bridie. What she uncovers reveals as much about herself, her marriage and her family than her missing sibling.

Sister Sebastian’s Library is a deeply moving exploration of relationships, loyalty and trust. With quiet confidence and perfectly pitched prose, Phil Whitaker challenges our understanding of the essentials that make us human.

Reviews of this Book

‘This gripping, evocative novel.’ —Claire Allfree, Daily Mail

‘Phil Whitaker’s fifth novel, Sister Sebastian’s Library is about family, regrets and responsibility, and what we do with the chance to start again.’ —Anne Goodwin, annethology

‘This novel about two sisters addresses the permanent themes of relationships, loyalty and trust. As one sister, Bridie, leaves her secular Catholic life to become a nun in Africa, and her sister Elodie sets out to look for her when she goes missing, the reader learns of Elodie’s own journey of self-discovery. As she concludes on her return flight: ‘Down there, somewhere, were human beings doing things out of hatred; many others down things out of love. And most, like Bridie and her, contending with the mess and muddle that lies between.’’ —Catholic Herald

‘While maintaining the fast-paced missing-person investigation, Whitaker also manages to weave in a separate timeline of Elodie’s memories of her sister. There are snapshots of their parents’ abusive marriage, an awkward 18th-birthday disco and euphoric experiences watching the electronic dance act Faithless. In these scenes from past lives, the complexities of sisterly strife are presented on a vividly human scale.’ —Caroline Crampton, New Statesman

Praise for Previous Work

‘Whitaker is so genuinely inventive.’ —The Spectator

‘Whitaker is clearly a writer to watch’ —Daily Telegraph

‘Whitaker is an intelligent, sympathetic and eloquent writer.’ —Sunday Telegraph

‘Phil Whitaker has gone where no novelist has dared to go before.’ —Marcus Chown

‘Funny, engaging, insightful, and even moving. Masterful.’ —Phil Hammond

‘Touching and sad, yet funny and entertaining.’ —Margaret Forster

‘A wonderful story. if literary thriller means anything it means The Face. Buy at once.’ —Time Out

‘Heart-stopping. The Face is a thriller unlike any I've ever read.’ —Literary Review

‘A clever, beautifully judged piece of writing.’ —Financial Times

‘It is hard to praise Triangulation enough’ —New Statesman

‘Conspicuously well done ... Triangulation is absorbing stuff’ —Independent

‘The machinery of colonialism is delicately examined in this distinguished, resonant novel.’ —Spectator

‘An effortless, rewarding read.’ —Glasgow Sunday Herald

‘A stylish and compulsive literary thriller that had me gripped.’ —Kate Atkinson

‘Excellent ... clever and mesmerising.’ —Spectator

‘Steady in its gaze and deeply penetrating in its insight into flesh and blood’ —Guardian

‘Crisply written and full of arresting images.’ —Independent

‘Intelligent and unsettling ... The Face is an impressive achievement ... Whitaker is a writer with a clear and uncluttered voice.’ —Sunday Telegraph

‘A beautifully told tale.’ —Independent on Sunday

‘A confident and inviting style that is both convincing and beguiling.’ —The Scotsman