All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley

on August 30, 2019

The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters #1)
Lucinda Riley
Pan Books
2018 (originally 2014), 622p
Purchased personal copy

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

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.

About four years ago now, I received a copy of the second in this series for review. At the time, I wasn’t familiar with it and I didn’t own the first book so I put it on my ‘TBR for the future’ shelf. Books I do want to read at some stage but that I can’t read right now. At some point in time I ended up picking up the first in this series on iBooks but it wasn’t until just a couple weeks ago when I saw that one of my local bookstores had all the series on sale, that I managed to collect the rest. And I actually got the first book too (as well as 3, 4 and 5) because I wanted to own them all in the same format. Plus I prefer reading pretty big books in print, rather than on my iPad screen. I’ve heard a lot of really good things about this series and so I decided to get stuck into this first one as a reward for plowing through quite a few of my review books.

The book begins with Maia, the oldest of six girls adopted by an enigmatic man the sisters know as ‘Pa Salt’ who adopted them all as infants over the course of a decade or so. The girls are all named after the stars in the seven sisters constellation, however there are only six of them – the seventh sister never materialised. Pa Salt has died and the girls gather at their childhood home to farewell and mourn him. Pa Salt, a wealthy man, leaves the girls the home as a safe haven and a modest income, encouraging them to make their own way and earn their own money. By means of a mysterious statue he also leaves them a clue to their heritage as well as a personal letter. It’s up to them what they choose to do with the information he has provided.

For Maia, it’s a journey to Brazil, because that’s where her clue leads to. From there she meets an email acquaintance and gets to know the city as well as trying to find out things about her past. The story then sweeps back to Brazil in the 1920s before journeying to Paris. I have to admit, after being with Maia for so long, I was a bit resentful when the story stepped back in time. But it didn’t take long before I was swept up in that element and the life of Izabel, daughter of a wealthy coffee farmer in Brazil and her coming of age, engagement to the son of a noble but impoverished family as well as her educational trip to the continent and exploration of Paris and its bohemian art scene. The trip to Paris focuses around Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa (a real life figure, posed here as the father of a friend of Izabel) and his dream to build a huge statue of Jesus Christ. There’s a lot about the logistics of building a 30 metre high statue of Jesus, as well as situating it atop a mountain, because of course this statue is Christ the Redeemer, which overlooks the city of Rio de Janeiro and is a modern wonder. I’m not at all religious and I generally find it incredibly boring to read about but I actually found the incorporation of the story about the statue really interesting, it makes the logistics of constructing weave seamlessly through the narrative, as well as the debate on what to make it out of and how that played forward into Maia’s present time. I can appreciate the sheer scope of the task and the level of difficulty and the fact that it then had to be transported halfway around the world by boat.

But it’s not just about the statue. It’s also a sweeping love story – star crossed love of course, because is there any other sort when you’re a young, wealthy, contractually engaged woman visiting Paris for the first time? Paris is presented as this place of freedom and colour, women going out unescorted, meeting for lunch and drinks, artists and writers and musicians. There’s a few names dropped, people that I presume were well known to be in Paris at this time.

Back in the modern day, Maia’s search for the answers of her past is also helping shape her future. For a very long time now she’s been quite closed off (the reason why is revealed quite late in the novel) but some of the answers she gets as well as the company she keeps is quite influential in her evolution to embrace something new and take a chance. I really did love her journey to find her ‘blood’ family and the clarity that it gave her in some aspects. It was also a very strong part of the novel, rather than her own developing romance, which is kind of more like a bonus of her journey to Brazil to find out the truth about herself. Not every question is answered – I find that this book left me with quite a few questions about things. How were they chosen? Why? Where is the 7th sister? What is the deal with Pa Salt and his mysterious fortune? Why do the adopted daughters not even know what he did for a living? Is he even {redacted}? I don’t know, I have all these questions and I can only assume that as I continue on with the series, I will begin to get all the pieces I need to solve the puzzle. The other sisters are mostly only in this book briefly at the beginning but I am already intrigued by a couple of them – the last chapter also sets up the next book.

I actually really want to dive right into the next book but I’ve told myself I’ll appreciate them a bit more if I space them out a bit, so at least a book, maybe two, in between each one.

8/10

Book #132 of 2019

As a bonus, I also am counting this one towards my participation in the Reading Women Podcast Challenge for 2019. I’m going to use it for prompt #23 – Any book from a series. This is the first in The Seven Sisters series. It’s the 18th book completed for this challenge.


4 responses to “Review: The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley

  1. 👏 Smashed through it! Glad to hear you liked it!!
    I loved the parts about the construction of Christ the Redeemer. Especially the tiles and how the women would inscribe the backs. How lovely was that?!

  2. Marg says:

    I really enjoyed the parts about the statue. I think Cece’s book might be my next audio

  3. […] Any book from a series – The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley. My review. […]

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