Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Shadow Sister - by Lucinda Riley: Book Review

Title: The Shadow Sister
Series: The Seven Sisters
Author: Lucinda Riley
No. Pages: 684
Publishing Date: 25.04.2017
Publisher: Atria Books


I couldn't wait for the third book in the series! It kept me as intrigues and interested as the first two books did, and it made me curious about the next sister, and the next book as well. (Although, I must confess, the sister the next book will be about is one of the most irksome, in my opinion. But I can't wait to read the book!) 

(spoilers ahead!)

Star D’Aplièse is the quietest of the six sisters Pa Salt adopted from all over the world. She has always been too close to her sister Cece, but in her desire to use the clues Pa Salt left behind after his death* to help the girls discover their origins, Star finds herself forging a new life for her. I rooted throughout the book for Star. She is at time too calm and patient, but for someone who had always been used to listen rather than speak, to follow rather than initiate, she did well for herself. I enjoyed seeing this character develop and gain substance.

Set in present day London, Star's genealogy and roots conveniently send the reader to the Edwardian England, with some Victorian influences. It is one of my dearest periods in the English history, and seeing names like Beatrix Potter's, and even the King's used in the novel was a treat. I didn't know about Alice Keppel, but it was a nice surprise. As with the first two books in the series, I am amazed how well the details and intricacies of the English families were nicely used to create the main character's story. I confess I needed a notebook to write down some details, or else I would have got lost in the maze of names and historical information.

Although I believe Star, Beatrix Potter and Alice Keppel the characters, Aurelia and Flora are strong characters, not coincidentally strong leading feminine characters, my suspicion that arose even from the previous two books that The Seven Sisters men are weaker than the women has been confirmed. Both the men from the past, those in connection with Flora and Aurelia, and the men in the present day in connection to Star's life seem weak in comparison to their female partners. Mouse, Archie, the King are not as impressive in their actions, words and decisions as their counterparts, Star, Flora/Aurelia, Alice. Most men exhibit an unfounded air of superiority, talk too much, and often act only prompted, like pawns. Maybe it's the feminism tendencies in me, but it was a thought that followed me throughout the novel, and I am curious if it will be confirmed by the next books.

A thing that seemed somewhat inauthentic were some exchanges between characters. Mouse and Star's rocky start of relationship can be excused due to their inexperience and their personalities, but still their exchanges seemed forced. However, the most out of place was the one between Star and Shanti when Shanti expresses her romantic interest. I sensed from the moment she was introduced in the novel that she was going in that direction, but I wish it had been done in a less cringy way. Curiously, the present day characters seem to have the problem of authentic talking rather than the characters in the past. Maybe this is because it's the Edwardian period and puffy language is excused.

As far as the plot goes - well done! The story-telling is so written as to keep the reader interested to the very end, even after you learn everything about Star's past. Another thing that gave the novel consistency was the way the author connected the events. In book two there is a concert Ally is in and we were told that Star attended it. In book three we learn how exactly did Star get there, and why isn't Cece with her. I like the little details that tie the novels.

My only serious problem with this series is that the books don't come out soon enough!

4.5/5

I received a free e-book copy from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

List of Characters. (spoilers ahead!) 
Star D’Aplièse (Asterope)
a Faberge panther - the clue Star has from Pa Salt
Orlando - bookshop keeper: Arthur Morston Books
Mouse - Orlando's brother
Alice - Mouse's deceased wife
Rory - 7years old. Mouse's son
Marguerite - Orlando's cousin
Flora MacNichol - keeps diaries, and that's how Star's story is told
Panther - Flora's cat
Aurelia MacNichol - Flora's sister
Esthwaite Hall - their family's manor
Rose MacNichol - their mother
Alistair - their father
Rose+the King (Bertie) = Flora
Lady Arabella Vaughan - good friend of Rose's. Archie's mother
Elizabeth Vaughan - Archie's sister
Lord Archie Vaughan - he loves Flora. marries Aurelia. then marries Flora
Louise - Archie and Aurelia's daughter. Flora will raise her, per Aurelia's request
Beatrix Potter - children's books writer
Freddie Soames - was to marry Flora, but due to her past the wedding is canceled
Countess Daphne + Count Algernon - Freddie's parents
Alice Keppel - the King's mistress. she takes Flora under her wing in London and introduces her into society
Violet & Sonia - Alice's girls
Violet + Vita Sackville-West (Mitya), a poetess
Sir Ernest Cassel - gives Flora the money the King left her
Teddy - the orphan Flora adopts
Louise + Teddy grow up as twins
Louise + Rupert Forbes=Laurence, Orlando and Mouse's father
Teddy + Tessie, the Land Girl = Patricia Smith
Teddy + Dixie/Cecilia O'Reilly, his wife = Michael, Marguerite's father
Patricia Smith + Alfred Brown = Petula (in '62)
Petula (18y/o) - Lucy Charlote (Star)
Petula = Sylvia Gray - Russia lit. professor at Yale, married with three kids
Robert Stein - Sylvia's husband


*I have my doubts about this. In book three, Star thinks she saw Pa Salt. Cece, too, thinks she saw a someone (we are not told who, but I suspect it's him) and is shocked. I book two, Ally thinks she heard Pa Salt's voice when she called Atlantis, but everything was settled when Ma said it was just the old answering machine recording. I don't remember if Maia, in book one, had a similar moment, but I wouldn't be surprised if she did. Since there are to be seven books in the series, and there are only six sisters, maybe book seven will give us more information. And I am pretty sure Pa Salt is alive.

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