Author: Lucinda Riley
Series: The Seven Sisters #1
Publication Date: April 2015
Synopsis: "Maia D'Apliese 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 cafes of Montparnasse, she meets ambitious young sculptor Laurent Brouilly, and knows at once that her life will never be the same again."
My thoughts: Wow, that is a hell of a blurb. Having just typed it out, I can honestly say that it pretty much has most of the book in it.
I really had high hopes for liking this book - it seemed a fascinating premise, following the seven sisters of the constellation and discovering their roots sounded like an excellent journey, and to begin with it was, but there were just a few problems that I had with this book that ended up making for a rather unfortunate reading experience.
Firstly, it feels like there is way too much packed into this one story. I would have liked to follow the building of Christ the Redeemer, because that story sounded wonderful to me, but we were also following Izabela's issues with her being married off, issues with her parents, falling in love, moving from place to place whilst also learning about those places, and suddenly an orphaned child came into the mix. And on top of this we also had to stay invested in the story of Maia, who is finding all of this out. It felt like too much, and it ended up making me feel like it was a chore to read this book, which is never enjoyable.
The other issue I had with this book was that the writing sometimes felt very wooden. The dialogue could sometimes be interesting, but mostly it felt like the characters were puppets, just saying kind of what I expected them to and then sitting back down until their next part came along. There was a lot of info-dumping, too, which made reading this a bit of a grind at times - and this is not a slim book.
Finally, I just found many of the characters to be quite unlikeable - I didn't empathise with what was happening much at all, and that honestly just made me feel a little grumpy. At times I had glimmers of understanding and enjoyment in the character's and their humour - a minor character being the main source of this (although she disappeared after only a couple of chapters) - but mostly I just felt a bit frustrated.
Overall, I found this to be a bit too ambitious, and perhaps not edited enough for my tastes. I will have a look at the second book, The Storm Sister, but to be honest I am just not sure it is to my taste.
I received a review copy of this book from Pan Macmillan (thank you!).
You would like this book if: you enjoy epic tales verging into history and based loosely on mythology.
Tea to drink while reading this book: I think the characters of this book would prefer you drank coffee, given that it is set during a coffee boom in Brazil!
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