The Seven Sisters is a series of huge, sweeping, epic tales of love and loss based on the legends of the Seven Sisters star constellation. Combining Historical fiction with the present day and set in far flung exotic locations, there are seven books planned for the series, with three already released and the fourth coming in November 2017.
Book 1: The Seven Sisters…
Maia D’Apliése and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home of ‘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.
The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley is a magnificently huge book that weaves a truly glorious story of love and history, set in Paris and Rio during both the 1920s and 2007. This is your sweeping saga type of novel, one to settle down with for hours at a time, running with a dual storyline in which both are so wonderful that you won’t be able to pick which one you like more.
Much of the story revolves around the construction of the amazing sculpture, Christ the Redeemer, and I have to say, the historical detail about the design and construction of this was incredibly fascinating. In particular, the outside of the sculpture is actually covered in a mosaic of tiles in order for the sculpture to have some flexibility given its exposure to the elements. The tiles needed to be attached to a strong netting before they could cover the sculpture and this activity was done by upper class Catholic women over a period of time while the sculpture was being finished off. What I found absolutely beautiful about this, was that many of the women would write the initials of their loved ones onto the backs of the tiles before attaching them to the netting, creating this eternal memory of who loved who attached to one of the greatest sculptures ever created. It just gives me goose-bumps thinking about it. I love that sort of history.
The other part of the story, and indeed, the main focus, was Maia’s search for her original family. I appreciated her mixed emotions and her soul searching journey; she was a lovely character to become invested in and I enjoyed all of the other colourful and memorable characters she encountered along the way. But it was the vivid atmosphere of present day Rio that Lucinda Riley recreated to perfection that really made this novel stand out. After I finished, all I could think was that I really want to go to Rio now myself, walk those streets, eat that food, dance the night away, and bask under the glory of Christ the Redeemer at sunrise. I wanted to crawl into the novel and that’s not something that happens all that often.
I highly recommend this novel, the first in a series of seven by Lucinda Riley, which follow the journey of seven adopted sisters all leaving home to search for their personal history. Absolutely wonderful.
Book 2: The Storm Sister…
Following on from The Seven Sisters, this is the second book in a spellbinding series of novels based loosely on the mythology surrounding the famous constellation. Each one follows the story of one sister, and each book opens at a beautiful chateau on the shores of Lake Geneva. The sisters gather together when they are told that their beloved father, an elusive billionaire they knew as Pa Salt, has died. He adopted them from across the globe, and now they are each left with an envelope, which holds a clue to their past, and a set of coordinates engraved on an armillary sphere, showing where their father found them.
The Storm Sister tells Ally’s story. A talent sailor, Ally is competing in one of the world’s deadliest races when tragedy strikes. This leads her to leave her life on the beautiful Mediterranean waters and follow the clue her father left her to a museum in Norway, where she begins to discover her past – and the story of a young woman, Anna, who lived there over 100 years before – and her links to the composer Edvard Grieg and his famous music to accompany Peer Gynt . . .
Lucinda Riley has such skill at writing these epic intergenerational stories. No stone is left unturned and everything happens for a reason. I feel as though I have travelled so far while reading The Storm Sister, yet after 700 pages, I would have still happily read more, that’s how well these stories within the story are constructed. The Storm Sister is the second instalment in the Seven Sisters Series and I am delighted to say that it was every bit as good as it predecessor.
There are many heartbreaking moments throughout this novel, possibly more so than in the first, but the beauty of this story builds throughout to culminate in a wonderful point about forgiveness and family. There is also a mystery building, one I see not being resolved until book seven. Who is Pa Salt and how exactly has he come to be in each place at the right time in history in order to adopt each of these girls as a newborn?
Again, Lucinda is so good at conveying a sense of place, evoking images within your mind of the setting so clear, despite having never been there. I am well and truly hooked on this series now and lament the fact that I have only one book left before I have to start waiting for a whole year between titles.
Book 3: The Shadow Sister…
Star D’Aplièse is at a crossroads in her life after the sudden death of her beloved father – the elusive billionaire, named Pa Salt by his six daughters, all adopted by him from the four corners of the world. He has left each of them a clue to their true heritage, but Star – the most enigmatic of the sisters – is hesitant to step out of the safety of the close relationship she shares with her sister CeCe. In desperation, she decides to follow the first clue she has been left, which leads her to an antiquarian bookshop in London, and the start of a whole new world . . .
A hundred years earlier, headstrong and independent Flora MacNichol vows she will never marry. She is happy and secure in her home in the Lake District, living close to her idol, Beatrix Potter, when machinations outside her control lead her to London, and the home of one of Edwardian society’s most notorious players, Alice Keppel. Flora is pulled between passionate love and duty to her family, but finds herself a pawn in a game – the rules of which are only known to others, until a meeting with a mysterious gentleman unveils the answers that Flora has been searching for her whole life . . .
As Star learns more of Flora’s incredible journey, she too goes on a voyage of discovery, finally stepping out of the shadow of her sister and opening herself up to the possibility of love.
Another triumph in the continuing story of The Seven Sisters. Star’s story was a truly lovely one, watching her unfold from her inhibitions and take flight into her own life. I was greatly surprised by how much I enjoyed this story, only because I had found Star to be somewhat wishy washy as a character when I had encountered her in the previous two novels.
I wasn’t overly fussed though at the relationship between her and her co-dependent sibling, CeCe. I have no doubt Lucinda Riley has big plans for turning CeCe into a more likeable character with more substance, but at this point in time, no scenes within this story involving CeCe did anything to endear me to her.
I thoroughly enjoyed the character Orlando. He was such an entertaining and quirky addition to Star’s story and he did much to draw out her hidden nature and bring her out into the light. I wanted nothing more than to be able to visit his bookshop and browse for hours, marvelling over his collection while a fire roared in the background. Likewise, you couldn’t help but quietly champion Mouse from the sidelines and adore little Rory, a child so eager to please and so much in need of a constant carer.
The real gem within this novel however was Flora’s story. It always gives me a thrill when an author successfully intermingles real people from history with their own fictitious characters. Throughout Flora’s story, England in the early 1900s came alive for me. Her story was both heartbreaking and triumphant, a wonderful journey of honour and love and her relationship with Beatrix Potter was truly delightful.
As the novel progressed and the stories from the past and the present intertwined, I was once again impressed by Lucinda Riley’s unique ability to write such a convincing and epic tale. She really is a brilliant story teller and even though the next instalment in this series is about the dreaded CeCe, I have no doubt that I will be swept off my feet and drawn into another epic story that will have me mourning at its conclusion.
Book 4: The Pearl Sister…
CeCe D’Aplièse has never felt she fitted in anywhere. Following the death of her father, the elusive billionaire Pa Salt – so-called by the six daughters he adopted from around the globe and named after the Seven Sisters star cluster – she finds herself at breaking point. Dropping out of art college, CeCe watches as Star, her beloved sister, distances herself to follow her new love, leaving her completely alone.
In desperation, she decides to flee England and discover her past; the only clues she has are a black-and-white photograph and the name of a woman pioneer who lived in Australia over one hundred years ago. En-route to Sydney, CeCe heads to the one place she has ever felt close to being herself: the stunning beaches of Krabi, Thailand. There amongst the backpackers, she meets the mysterious Ace, a man as lonely as she is and whom she subsequently realises has a secret to hide . . .
A hundred years earlier, Kitty McBride, daughter of an Edinburgh clergyman, is given the opportunity to travel to Australia as the companion of the wealthy Mrs McCrombie. In Adelaide, her fate becomes entwined with Mrs McCrombie’s family, including the identical, yet very different, twin brothers: impetuous Drummond, and ambitious Andrew, the heir to a pearling fortune.
When CeCe finally reaches the searing heat and dusty plains of the Red Centre of Australia, she begins the search for her past. As something deep within her responds to the energy of the area and the ancient culture of the Aboriginal people, her creativity reawakens once more. With help from those she meets on her journey, CeCe begins to believe that this wild, vast continent could offer her something she never thought possible: a sense of belonging, and a home . . .
The Pearl Sister is the fourth book in the number one international bestselling Seven Sisters series.
Expected publication: November 2nd 2017 by Macmillan
To read more about the inspiration and research behind the series, Lucinda Riley has a page on her website dedicated to the Seven Sisters.