Review – The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley

By | November 11, 2014

Their future is written in the stars . . .

Maia D’Apliése 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, the elusive billionaire they call Pa Salt, has died. Maia and her sisters were all adopted by him as babies and, discovering he has already been buried at sea, each of them is handed a tantalising clue to their true heritage – a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Once there, she begins to put together the pieces of where her story began . . .

Eighty years earlier, in the Belle Epoque of Rio, 1927, Izabela Bonifacio’s father has aspirations for his daughter to marry into aristocracy. Meanwhile, architect Heitor da Silva Costa is working on a 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 cafés of Montparnasse, she meets ambitious young sculptor Laurent Brouilly, and knows at once that her life will never be the same again.

In September, I was absolutely thrilled to be invited to meet Lucinda Riley at a blogger event launching The Seven Sisters – the first in a series of seven books, based on the legends of the Seven Sisters star constellation. Sadly I was unable to attend, but the lovely people at Pan Macmillan were kind enough to send me an advance copy for review. When it arrived, the size of the parcel was a bit of a surprise – this is a really big book (in so many ways), a whopping 622 pages. I’ve just finished reading it – putting it down with a satisfied sigh after three days of unadulterated joy.  

I adore Lucinda Riley’s writing … from Hothouse Flower through The Girl on the Cliff and The Light Behind The Window, then the sublime The Midnight Rose, and the last, The Italian Girl. This new release is every bit as perfect, total escapism between the covers, another world that envelops you from the first page to the last.  

As a series, the concept is wonderful – seven sisters mourning the death of their adoptive father at his sumptuous home on the shores of Lake Geneva, finding the armillary sphere in the garden, and each given a set of coordinates for where they came from together with a letter.  The scene set, this book follows the story of the eldest daughter Maia and follows her to Rio de Janeiro where she searches for the secrets of her past.  

She uncovers the story of Izabela Bonafacio through the discovery of some letters – a wonderful story, moving to Paris and back to Rio at the time of the construction of the statue of Christ the Redeemer, the story of a wonderful love affair tinged with all the sadness of loss and the burden of duty.  Maia is a strong character, with secrets of her own, and her modern story is every bit as engaging as that of Izabela – well, almost, because Izabela’s story is simply enthralling, set against a mesmerising historical backdrop. Lucinda Riley writes quite beautifully with perfectly drawn characters, vivid descriptions and an exceptional talent for telling a story. 

I sometimes have a bit of a problem with big books.  In my younger days I can remember weighing down my holiday suitcases with the latest blockbusters, believing that the bigger the book, the better the story.  Then my tastes changed – I started to avoid them, finding anything over 400 pages too daunting. Lucinda Riley’s wonderful books have totally changed my mind again – this book might be enormous, but the pages turned so quickly and thoroughly enjoyably that I never really noticed. And I’m so excited by the fact that this is only the first book in a planned series of seven – I can hardly wait for the next, particularly as this book ends with a tantalising glimpse of Ally’s story to follow. Overall, this is storytelling on a wide-screen cinematic scale, and absolutely perfect.

My thanks to publishers Pan Macmillan and to the author (and her PA Olivia) for my copy, and for the opportunity to be there at the beginning of what promises to be an exceptional reading experience. The Seven Sisters was published in hardback and for Kindle on 6 November – the paperback will follow in April 2015.

Lucinda Riley was born in Ireland and wrote her first book aged 24. Her novel Hothouse Flower (also called The Orchid House) was selected for the UK’s Richard and Judy Bookclub in 2011 and went on to sell over 2 million copies worldwide and become a New York Times Bestseller. She is a multiple New York Times bestselling author an has topped the bestseller charts in four European countries.  Her other bestselling novels include The Girl on the Cliff, The Light Behind the Window (also called The Lavender Garden), The Midnight Rose and The Italian GirlLucinda’s books are translated into 25 languages and published in 36 countries. She lives with her husband and four children on the North Norfolk coast in England and in the South of France. 

In addition to her excellent website, Lucinda has set up another dedicated to this new series, with some fascinating links. You might like to take a look at this video where she talks about where her inspiration came from.

2 thoughts on “Review – The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley

  1. Wendy R

    Very detailed descriptive commentary on what looks like a great book by a strong writer. Will read it.

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