This is the fifth and most recent release in the planned seven-volume series by Lucinda Riley called The Seven Sisters. And while I enjoyed it, it is probably my least favorite so far. Still, awarded four stars on Goodreads.
The full series is based on six fictional sisters, all adopted by a wealthy Swiss man, who, as adults, seek to learn about their biological ancestry. Each volume tells the back story of a different sister’s journey. At the same time, each sister usually winds up associated with some actual historical figure — and Lucinda Riley is a master of historical detail.
This time it’s the story of Tiggy D’Aplièse, a young woman with a passion for wildlife conservation and a gift for hands-on healing. Her origins lie in the 20th century tradition of Romani (gypsy) dance. The novel weaves back and forth between Tiggy’s 2008 life helping a Scottish laird reinvigorate wildlife on his vast highland lands and the story of her ancestors, who originate in a small town in Spain.
Tiggy’s grandmother, Lucia, begins performing as a child and winds up traveling the world, as one of the preeminent flamenco dancers of her time. Riley modeled Lucia’s story on the life of Carmen Amaya (1918-1963), a physically small but tempestuous flamenco dancer, who revolutionized the genre by wearing pants and infusing much more emotion into the movements. (If you’re interested, here’s an old video of her dancing.)
There’s lots of drama. The Scottish laird’s troubled marriage, financial problems, and rebellious teenage daughter. There’s a shady rich guy pursuing Tiggy, with clearly no understanding of the #MeToo movement. Tiggy faces her own health challenge. Oh yeah, there’s also the Spanish Civil War and World War II.
I enjoyed learning more about the Romani culture and about the mid-century lifestyle of world traveling performers. But overall, the book simply did not feel as “tight” as the others in this series. And there were a few instances where coincidences felt a bit too convenient and contrived.
Still I will eagerly continue with the series. (Remember, I still gave this one four stars!) And I remain a huge fan of Irish-born writer, Lucinda Riley.
More about the author.