Guys, I have a new favourite series. This book completely captivated me and I absolutely adored living in Lucinda Riley’s world for the last few days. Before I start raving about it, here’s the blurb from Goodreads…
Maia D’Apliese and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home, “Atlantis”—a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva—having been told that their beloved father, who adopted them all as babies, has died. Each of them is handed a tantalizing clue to her true heritage—a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Once there, she begins to put together the pieces of her story and its beginnings.
Eighty years earlier in Rio’s Belle Epoque of the 1920s, Izabela Bonifacio’s father has aspirations for his daughter to marry into the aristocracy. Meanwhile, architect Heitor da Silva Costa is devising plans for an enormous 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.
In this sweeping, epic tale of love and loss—the first in a unique, spellbinding series of seven novels—Lucinda Riley showcases her storytelling talent like never before.
I have to admit, even after that blurb, I wasn’t too sure what to expect from this one. I didn’t really know what genre the book was and went in pretty blind. And I LOVED it. It was glamorous and romantic but also fascinating, and I can tell that the overarching story is going to be extremely clever.
As the blurb states, this is the first in a series of seven books and, as you may have deduced, each book focuses on a different sister. This one followed Maia, the oldest sister, who has been living a rather isolated life and decides to investigate her past after her adoptive father dies. I really loved following Maia’s story for the duration of this book; her character development was superb. The story is split between Maia in the present day and her ancestor in the past, and each character, no matter which time period, has a distinct personality. Nobody felt superfluous; even minor characters made valuable contributions to the story. It was great to see the connections between past and present forming and I’m now really excited to learn more about the other sisters in the later books.
Now I have to talk about the world building. This is one of the most important aspects of a book for me, given that I read to escape the ‘real world’ (if you missed my recent post about this, you can find it here). Obviously, we’re not talking about fantasy novels here, which have to create whole worlds from scratch, but a more real world. Even so, Riley’s world building was INCREDIBLE. Both Brazil and Paris were richly evoked and I wanted to jump on a plane and travel halfway around the world! The sights and smells were absolutely leaping off the page and the whole thing was just divinely sumptuous. I thought the parallel story of the ‘Christ the Redeemer’ statue was a really fascinating addition, and Brazil is now much higher on my travel wishlist! I can’t wait to see where the next books in the series will take me (apparently book two is set in Norway!)
This book has given me a serious hangover. Every time I had to put it down, I couldn’t get it out of my head and even now that I’ve finished, I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s such an intricate and clever plot; I cannot WAIT to delve into it further!
Has anyone read this series? Or are you interested in doing so after my review?! I’ve got the next two books on my shelf and the fourth one comes out in paperback in April!