Wednesday, 8 July 2015
Author: Lucinda Riley
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Local Public Library
Publisher: Atria Books
First Published: May 5, 2015
First Line: "I will always remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard that my father had died."
Book Description from GoodReads: Maia D’Apliese and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home, “Atlantis”—a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva—having been told that their beloved father, who adopted them all as babies, has died. Each of them is handed a tantalizing clue to her true heritage—a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Once there, she begins to put together the pieces of her story and its beginnings.
Eighty years earlier in Rio’s Belle Epoque of the 1920s, Izabela Bonifacio’s father has aspirations for his daughter to marry into the aristocracy. Meanwhile, architect Heitor da Silva Costa is devising plans for an enormous statue, to be called Christ the Redeemer, and will soon travel to Paris to find the right sculptor to complete his vision. Izabela—passionate and longing to see the world—convinces her father to allow her to accompany him and his family to Europe before she is married. There, at Paul Landowski’s studio and in the heady, vibrant cafes of Montparnasse, she meets ambitious young sculptor Laurent Brouilly, and knows at once that her life will never be the same again.
In this sweeping, epic tale of love and loss—the first in a unique, spellbinding series of seven novels—Lucinda Riley showcases her storytelling talent like never before.
My Review: This is a book about the power of family. I had read and adored one of Lucinda Riley's previous books, The Midnight Rose, last year so I was eager to read more from this acclaimed historical fiction author. I have to admit that it wasn't until I had finished reading The Seven Sisters that I realized that it is the first book in a seven book series - with each book focusing on a different sister's past. Cool premise but a big commitment from readers.
This first book focuses on Maia's search for her birth family and what she discovers is a gaggle of familial secrets on a different continent spanning generations. The secrets themselves weren't all that scandalous and were even predictable but this book held my interest for the most part.
Honestly, I wanted to learn more about Maia and her adoptive family than her birth family. There were so many unanswered questions - I wanted to know more about Maia's adoptive father, Pa Salt, and his mysterious life as well as how and why he adopted six baby girls from all over the world. And yes I said six, not seven, because the seventh sister was never introduced. Mystery ... dun dun duuuuun. I suspect that Pa Salt has a lot more to his story than the reader (or the sisters) are privy to. His death was quite sudden and the way he died and even how he was buried was quite suspect. I sense that he had (and will have) a much larger role in each of his daughter's lives than they initially believed.
The characters were interesting enough and quite diverse. I have to give credit to Riley for giving each of the sisters a very unique voice in the beginning of the book. Sadly we really don't get to see much more of the six sisters for the remainder of the book which was unfortunate because they were quite an interesting and diverse group of women. After Maia takes off to find her birth family the plot began to falter for me. As the story progressed it became less about Maia and more about Maia's great great grandmother, Izabella. While Izabella's story was fairly interesting it was Maia who I wanted to read about. And with the inclusion of Maia's grandmother and mother into the story, at times, it became hard to remember which generation we were talking about.
The setting and history aspects are what enthralled me. Rio isn't a place that I've read about (let alone visited) before and while I know what the Christ the Redeemer (aka Christo) statue looks like it was interesting to learn more about its design and construction as well as a brief history of Brazil. The streets, people and culture of Rio was vividly described and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about this unique city as it's woven within a fictional tale.
In the end, I can't say that I loved this book. It was good, not great. The pace dragged and it felt like it could have been condensed quite a bit and still kept the story in tact. The lackluster ending leaves readers with too many unanswered questions which may be used to entice readers to read the future books in the series but it left me feeling a little jilted if I'm being honest. Overall, this was a decent book but not up to par with some of Lucinda Riley's early works.
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars