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 is a sweeping epic tale of love and loss - the first in a unique, spellbinding series of seven books, based on the legends of the Seven Sisters star constellation - Lucinda Riley showcases her storytelling talent like never before.
Last September I had the privilege of being invited to London to have lunch with Lucinda Riley to hear her talk about her exciting new series, you can read my post about it here. On the day I did receive a proof copy of the first book The Seven Sisters which I have to admit has sat in my TBR pile for quite some time... sorry Lucinda!
As the blurb suggests Maia and her sisters return home to Lake Geneva after the death of their beloved father 'Pa Salt'. Although they'd all been adopted as babies none of them know anything about their heritages but following Pa Salt's death they are each given a letter with some clues and coordinates from an Armillary sphere which will guide them to where they need to go to discover who they are.
In this first book we follow Maia as her quest takes her halfway across the world to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil to begin her search and with the help of Brazilian novelist Floriano Quintelis her investigations eventually lead her to her reclusive maternal grandmother. And this for me is when the story really took flight as she learns of her great-grandmother's story through letters that she had received. We are taken back in time eighty years as we follow Izabela's (Bel) story as she struggled with her sense of duty but at the same time wanting to follow her heart as she fell in love with the 'wrong' man whilst overseas in Paris and see how she adapts back to life once she returns home.
Although the majority of the book does concentrate on the past and Bel's story, we do also follow Maia in the current day and see how she's coping with everything that she is learning about her ancestry, discover a few things about her past which have had a major impact on her own life as well as witness her blossoming relationship with Floriano. Will she get all the answers she's looking for?
Lucinda's descriptive writing really draws you in and I found myself lost as I saw Paris and Brazil through Bel's eyes in the 1920s as well as seeing modern day Brazil as Floriano takes Maia into the heart of the favela and introduces her to street Samba dancing.
It's also clear that Lucinda has done a lot of historical research especially regarding the construction of Christ the Redeemer statue, the iconic landmark which now dominates the Rio de Janeiro skyline, and fed this into the storyline so seamlessly. .
The whole concept of the series being based around the cluster of stars known as The Seven Sisters of Pleiades, with each star representing a sisters story although there is one missing, is magical and sets up the anticipation as to what we have in store for us for the next six years.
I'm a late starter to Lucinda's books having only read a couple of her later ones but I knew I was going to love this one which is why I wanted to take my time to read it, especially as it's a biggie at over 600 pages, and not rush through it snatching a chapter here or there. And one advantage of having read this book later than planned is that I don't have as long to wait for Ally's story which is due to be published later this year.
Although The Seven Sisters is now published in paperback format, thanks to Katie at Pan Macmillan I have special hardback edition to give away (sorry this giveaway is restricted to UK only). Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.