All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley

on October 11, 2019

The Pearl Sister (The Seven Sisters #4)
Lucinda Riley
Macmillan
2018, 682p
Purchased personal copy

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

From the breathtaking beaches of Thailand to the barely tamed wilds of colonial Australia, The Pearl Sister is the next captivating story in New York Times bestselling author Lucinda Riley’s epic series about two women searching for a place to call home.

CeCe D’Aplièse has always felt like an outcast. But following the death of her father—the reclusive billionaire affectionately called Pa Salt by the six daughters he adopted from around the globe—she finds herself more alone than ever. With nothing left to lose, CeCe delves into the mystery of her familial origins. The only clues she holds are a black and white photograph and the name of a female pioneer who once traversed the globe from Scotland to Australia.

One hundred years earlier, Kitty McBride, a clergyman’s daughter, abandoned her conservative upbringing to serve as the companion to a wealthy woman traveling from Edinburgh to Adelaide. Her ticket to a new land brings the adventure she dreamed of…and a love that she had never imagined.

When CeCe reaches the searing heat and dusty plains of the Red Centre of Australia, something deep within her responds to the energy of the area and the ancient culture of the Aboriginal people, and her soul reawakens. As she comes closer to finding the truth of her ancestry, CeCe begins to believe that this untamed, vast continent could offer her what she’s always yearned for: a sense of belonging.

So, book 4 of this huge series and this is the one that’s set in Australia. Each of them have delved back into the past to a different place on Earth and CeCe’s journey brings her to outback Australia – first Broome, then Alice Springs. This was always going to be a bit interesting to me, because it’s being written by a white non-Australian and CeCe’s heritage actually turns out that she is mostly Aboriginal or Indigenous Australian. And she was adopted by a white, wealthy man from overseas. If you know anything of Indigenous Australian history, you know that they had whole generations of their babies removed from them in an abhorrent practice because they weren’t believed to properly be able to care for them because the family dynamics weren’t the same, nor were children raised in the way in which white Europeans were used to. Those babies were placed in orphanages or adopted into white families to be raised in the “right Christian way” leaving behind their languages, their culture. It’s been hugely, hugely problematic and something our government has only recently taken responsibility and apologised for.

CeCe isn’t an easy character to settle into – at the beginning of the book (it begins just as Star’s is ending) she’s quite bitter and upset about the fact that not only has Star been investigating her birth family without telling her and has….moved in a new direction with her life. The two of them have been inseparable their whole lives, with Star not really saying much and CeCe talking for her. Originally it seemed as though CeCe wasn’t particularly interested in finding out about her origins but given Star has she almost seems to decide to do the same on a whim. She flies to Australia via Thailand, spending a few weeks there and just…..trying to figure things out I think. Her confidence in her art has taken a huge knock, the art college in London didn’t work out for her and she’s left feeling like perhaps she wasn’t as talented as everyone thought. She lacks direction with what to do next, especially as she’s alone now. She decides that finding her origins might help give her some clarity and armed with a clue, she lands in Broome, in northern Western Australia. Broome is now mostly a holiday/tourist destination but years ago it was incredibly busy with pearling and was a melting pot of a mix of cultures. A lot of the pearl divers were Japanese, there’s a large indigenous population and then of course there were also those of European heritage. CeCe’s heritage lies in most of these!

I enjoyed quite a lot about this but it kind of wasn’t without its issues for me too. Kitty’s story, beginning in Scotland, travelling to Adelaide and then onto Broome was quite a read. It was rife with scandal, heartbreak, a girl who was a fish out of water and learned to adapt in the most remarkable ways. I actually quite enjoyed Kitty as a character and the ways in which she faced her changing circumstances with courage. She’s also remarkably modern for the times as Riley does that thing people do when they write characters into Australian history who don’t think the way that everyone else at the time seemed to. But it set the scene well as the background of CeCe’s story and I also liked her finding her heritage. There’s a lot of reality woven into the story, such as the Hermannsburg Luthern Mission and perhaps its most famous resident, painter Albert Namatjira (an Indigenous painter who also painted in a Western style) and the inclusion of real pearl ships during Kitty’s time in Broome.

The end of this felt a bit…..random to me. There’s a whole story which is woven in, which seems important and then basically isn’t at all, really. Then there’s something that pops out of nowhere towards the end which for me, did not have the groundwork laid for it. I’m not against the actual idea of it at all, but it just doesn’t seem like it was a logical conclusion for me. Like I was thinking one thing and then all of a sudden the book was like nah, that doesn’t matter, here’s this thing over here that we never really explored before at all but yep, it’s out there and that’s probably the way it’s going to go. Also I felt like CeCe’s dyslexia was her excuse for not knowing things (like what is genocide?) but there are many other ways to learn things if reading is difficult for you and considering CeCe’s adoptive father is super rich and and she’s had access to the best education money can buy surely someone would’ve figured out a way for CeCe to learn things that doesn’t involve reading a textbook and having Star write her essays for her.

This was not my favourite of the series, which I expected going in, CeCe has proven difficult to read about at times and even though I finished Star’s book feeling a bit sorry for her, her mindset at the beginning of this one is pretty negative. It’s all about everything she did for Star growing up, talking for her when Star couldn’t find words etc and now Star has abandoned her. You’re both 27 or 28 years old. Did you think you were going to live together/share a bedroom together forever? Someone had to cut the cord and CeCe seems to resent the people in Star’s life that she cares about because they’ve taken Star away from her. She does grow up a bit towards the end but there’s just a lot of negativity and self doubt and thinking she’s rubbish to get through and it was a bit of a challenge at times. I am however, quite excited for Tiggy’s story. It’s set in the Scottish highlands, which should be a lovely place to visit and the little preview chapter at the end of this one sounded very interesting. I’ve been keen for this book since I read the first one and discovered what Tiggy’s job was.

Also Pa Salt? No progress made there except once again he finds a way for people to not know his real name. So the mystery continues.

7/10

Book #159 of 2019


5 responses to “Review: The Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley

  1. Great review… it’s a whopper of a book, for sure… I can’t believe there are only two left!

  2. Do you mean the relationship towards the end? Yeah, I thought that was a bit of a Star-substitute, to be honest.

    • Yes, that relationship. I feel as though she half-heartedly tried to insert a few sentences so that it wouldn’t be such a surprise (not having had good sex before), who CeCe started having feelings for in the end but I don’t actually feel like CeCe ever started having feelings for that person? Lol. Like until the other person mentions it to her…..out of nowhere? I thought they were going in another direction from Thailand (because she seemed to enjoy that), maybe that was going to be a redemption romance in later days but nope…. It felt very random, like maybe the author realised that one of the sisters should be of a different leaning and just decided to chuck it into this book without really laying the groundwork.

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