In the UK this book is published under the title: The Love Letter.
An ambitious young journalist, unravels a dangerous mystery that threatens to devastate the British monarchy. Keeping secrets is a dangerous game. When Sir James Harrison, one the greatest actors of his generation, passes away at the age of ninety-five, he leaves behind not just a heartbroken family but also a secret so shocking, it could rock the English establishment to its core. Joanna stumbles on something dark beneath the glamour: the mention of a letter James Harrison has left behind–the contents of which many have been desperate to keep concealed for over seventy years. As she peels back the veil of lies that has shrouded the secret, she realises that she’s close to uncovering something deadly serious–and the royal family may be implicated. Before long, someone is on her tracks, attempting to prevent her from discovering the truth. And they’ll stop at nothing to reach the letter before she does.
For pure escapism, this royal scandal fit the bill, but I found it weaker than The Lavender Garden and the Seven Sisters series. This is a thrilling page-turner, but I found it a bit overlong and the plot rather improbable and exaggerated. If you are new to Riley, don’t start with this one, but if you are a diehard fan like I am, it’s still a fun engaging read and also interesting because she wrote it 20 years ago. It was recently republished so it definitely shows how the author has improved in her writing!
Lucinda Riley’s Seven Sisters series captivated me, and I’ve been patiently waiting for the 6th instalment in the series which is just coming out. It’s called The Sun Sister.
But in the meantime my daughter, who also read the series, raced through all of Riley’s other novels (all stand alone) while waiting, and said they were really good as well. I’m finally getting to one and I agree with you Miriam! I’m going to read more as well. Riley has a signature style without being formulaic. Every novel is slightly different but includes a present reality and a historical flashback. The narratives do alternate, but in longer stretches which is less disruptive than some novelists who yo-yo back and forth after every chapter. And there are interesting parallels between the stories right from the beginning. This one also includes a character from one of her other novels–Venetia, who was also in The Orchid House.
In The Lavender Garden, Emilie is overwhelmed by the inheritance of the family mansion and estate in France. Being the last in her family line, she is left alone to cope when her world turns upside down. Flashback to Paris in 1944, British office clerk, Connie Caruthers’ world is also upended when she is sent for a special resistance assignment during WW2 to France.
Riley’s novels are a lovely escape because she effortlessly hooks us into the stories and makes us care about the characters and what happens to them. She is a gifted storyteller, builds suspense well, and offers an enthralling reading experience with a bit of romance and historical insight thrown in. It’s true that unlocking the past can be the key to the future, and Riley makes it so. Here is a link to an interesting Q & A with the author about the book: click here.
Note: In the UK, this book is published under the title The Light Behind the Window.
Tiggy’s story takes place in the Scottish Highlands as well as the hills and caves of Granada, Spain. Tiggy has a gift for working with animals and has inherited a sixth sense from her ancestors. If you are already following the Seven Sisters Series, this is the last one in the series that is available for now. The sixth instalment is still being written and is due to be released in the fall of 2019. It will focus on Electra, the famous yet troubled sister.
If you are new to the series, it is recommended to read them in order. Pa Salt, a mysterious wealthy man, adopts 6 daughters from various corners of the globe and names them after a star constellation. Upon his death/disappearance, the girls are given clues about their origins and each one embarks on a journey of discovery. Each book focuses on one sister, and the books just keep getting better and better. In this one there are a few more clues about what will be coming in the final book which has been top secret all along. However, there is a mystery building about the 7th sister called Merope, who is mentioned but was never found, and about Pa Salt’s disappearance. Is he really dead?
For a complete list of the books in the series, visit Lucinda Riley’s website. I also found an article about her personal life which reads like a page-turner in itself: click here.
This series is an epic saga; a delicious blend of contemporary and historical fiction. I keep wondering how the author can maintain the momentum, but she has done it once again. And each instalment has been wonderfully unique.
Cece, the quiet sister who was never far apart from her sister Star, has been frustrated by her inability to find herself or her niche as an artist. In the wake of a perceived abandonment by her sister, she decides to follow the clues left to her by her dear father Pa Salt. Following nothing more than a name (Kitty Mercer known as the “the pearling pioneer”), geographical coordinates, and an old black and white photograph, her quest brings her to Australia (via Thailand) where she not only discovers her family, but also her inner self. I liked how Cece’s new link to an Aboriginal culture where story-telling and art are major forms of communication, make her more accepting of her dyslexia. I loved the descriptions of Australia as harsh and unforgiving, but also full of heart, soul, and opportunity.The plight of indigenous people is considered, as well as the ways of the early settlers: both are treated with respect by the author. Riley intertwines established history with imagined backstories that are thoroughly engrossing. Lucinda Riley’s research is very thorough and her website provides information about the real stories behind the books. For that background information, here is the link.
Pa Salt leaves his daughter Star a small figurine in the shape of a black panther, as well as a letter directing her to an antiquarian bookshop in London. Star and her sisters were each adopted from various parts of the world and raised on Pa Salt’s magnificent estate on the shores of Lake Geneva. They’ve grown up well, never acting spoiled as a result of their lives of privilege, but each feels lacking in some way, compelled to discover their birth heritage. By leaving them mysterious clues, their adoptive father helps to set them on a journey which not only reveals their past but also charts their future.
Named after a constellation of stars, the first sister Maia goes to Brazil in The Seven Sisters which is also an introduction to the series. The second sister Ally, goes to Norway in The Storm Sister. In this instalment, Star steps out from the shadow of her sister to go to the Lake District and Kent, entering the world of British aristocracy in the Edwardian era.
The historical aspect of this fiction series is definitely its strength and is what intrigues me the most. Even though these books are cosy, romantic sagas to sink into, the amount of research that went into the real people behind the stories, raises these novels to a higher level with wide appeal.
Though Flora MacNichol is a fictional character, her life as it entwines with Alice Keppel, King Edward the VII, and Beatrix Potter is fascinating. There is also an unrelated but interesting real life connection to Prince Charles and Camilla which I will let you discover on your own. Lucinda Riley’s website provides a great deal of information about the true stories behind the books, for further reading pleasure, here is the link.
“In moments of weakness, you will find your greatest strength.”
This series is an interesting mix of mystery, family saga, light historical fiction, and romance. It’s really one huge story, chopped up into seven parts, so aside from the first one, The Seven Sisters, which introduces the series as well as features the oldest sister Maia, each book stands alone. The fifth instalment is just coming out in Feb 2019, so this series is very much still in progress. The author has shared that the seventh will wrap up the hidden plot running through all of the books, and the full story will be revealed. Questions will finally be answered, like, “Who is the mysterious Pa Salt and who is the seventh sister we haven’t met yet, but has a name?”
The Storm Sister is about Ally, a professional competitive sailor and closet musician. When tragedy strikes, Ally must rally (sorry :)) and her journey of recovery brings her (and us) into the classical music world of Edvard Grieg and Henrik Ibsen in Norway.
I’m really enjoying this series, and will definitely carry on with it, but it is not flawless. It’s not great literature and a bit too predictable, despite a few twists and turns, but I’ve enjoyed the historical aspects and the interesting settings around the world. Things do tend to work out rather amazingly well for all of the characters, who are a bit two-dimensional to be honest, but I cannot deny that this is a lovely easy-to-read modern family saga to get lost in. I am reassured also by the fact that this series was recommended to me by a man in my book club whose reading taste I respect, so it does have wide appeal and is worthwhile enough to chase away those ‘guilt about indulging in a cheesy romance’ feelings. This series just might help me make it through the winter–just one a month, doled out gradually like left-over Halloween candy…:)