Monday, 31 March 2014

The Lost Sisterhood

Author: Anne Fortier
Genre: Historical Fiction
Type: Kindle e-book Advanced Reading Copy
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: March 11, 2014
First Line: "The young men completed their training row in record time."

Book Description from GoodReadsThe Lost Sisterhood is the new novel from the author of Juliet, an Oprah's Book Club Pick published in 30 countries which has been picked up by Universal to be made into a feature film. The Lost Sisterhood tells the story of Diana, a young and aspiring--but somewhat aimless--professor at Oxford. Her fascination with the history of the Amazons, the legendary warrior women of ancient Greece, is deeply connected with her own family's history; her grandmother in particular. When Diana is invited to consult on an archeological excavation, she quickly realizes that here, finally, may be the proof that the Amazons were real.

The Amazons' "true" story--and Diana's history--is threaded along with this modern day hunt. This historical back-story focuses on a group of women, and more specifically on two sisters, whose fight to survive takes us through ancient Athens and to Troy, where the novel reinvents our perspective on the famous Trojan War.

The Lost Sisterhood features another group of iconic, legendary characters, another grand adventure--you'll see in these pages that Fortier understands the kind of audience she has built with Juliet, but also she's delivering a fresh new story to keep that audience coming back for more.

My Review:  After reading and really enjoying Fortier's debut novel, Juliet, four years ago I was very eager to get the chance to review her next book.  Fortier has a talent for weaving two storylines using dual narratives, in two very different eras, so that each depends upon the other in order to tell the story.  She also has a unique way of taking an age-old tale and putting her own spin on things.

One of the things that drew me to this book (besides Fortier's name on the cover) was the fact that the book dealt with mythology.  Who doesn't like a good battle over a woman and talk of Greeks, Trojans and mythological creatures?  Ever since taking a mythology class at university I've always found the ageless stories of myth to be very compelling so reading a book that had characters from The Iliad and the infamous Trojan War was right up my alley.  That said, I'm wondering if readers without any knowledge of Greek/Trojan myth would find this book to be a little confusing (or just not as compelling)?

This book incorporates some high energy Indiana Jones/Dan Brown-type action scenes having Diana going from one place to the next in search of various relics and information and it also included a bit of romance.  The modern day romance I could have done without because I think it came off as predictable and ever so slightly cheesy.  Diana was also whisked so quickly from one local to the next on her hunt that I never felt like I got a really good idea of what each destination (like Turkey and Algeria) was like before being shuttled to the next.  I'll just chalk that up to the need to keep the pace and energy high during her storyline.

There were parts of this book that I felt utterly riveted to the storyline but then the plot would focus on Diana and I found the pace to lag -- probably because I didn't love Diana as a protagonist.  Here's a highly educated, Oxford professor who is easily swindled into travelling with a nefarious man to a strange location, given little to no information or chance to contact her loved ones ... and she's okay with that.  For a very smart woman she was too na├»ve and her desire to learn more about the Amazon culture didn't seem enough of a reason (to me at least) for her to just jump blindly into this adventure.

Where Myrina was a strong, determined and resilient woman warrior, modern day Diana was portrayed more as a main character in a Romancing the Stone-type book.  Diana, for all her education, doesn't seem to do much more than read from her Grandmother's diary to solve the mystery too which I found odd since as an academic in the field she should know quite a bit about the topic.  Diana's character doesn't change much throughout the book and that lack of development doesn't tend to endear me to characters.

The Lost Sisterhood had an interesting premise but I think the book is a little long in the tooth.  By the time I got to the last quarter of the book I found myself skimming through and I think that had a lot to do with the fact that a lot of the ending focused on Diana.  Her storyline seemed a lot weaker and less interesting and I found myself wanting to go back to Myrina's story. 

Overall, I enjoyed this read (just not as much as I loved her first book Juliet).  It was an interesting premise but the main story didn't quite live up to my expectations.  Otherwise, I think that this would be a good read for mythology/history buffs.

My Rating: 3 stars

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