Title: The Pearl Sister
Author: Lucinda Riley
Published: February 27th 2018
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Historical, Romance
Rating: 4.5 stars
CeCe D’Aplièse has never felt she fitted in anywhere. Following the death of her father, the elusive billionaire Pa Salt – so-called by the six daughters he adopted from around the globe and named after the Seven Sisters star cluster – she finds herself at breaking point. Dropping out of art college, CeCe watches as Star, her beloved sister, distances herself to follow her new love, leaving her completely alone.
In desperation, she decides to flee England and discover her past; the only clues she has are a black-and-white photograph and the name of a woman pioneer who lived in Australia over one hundred years ago. En-route to Sydney, CeCe heads to the one place she has ever felt close to being herself: the stunning beaches of Krabi, Thailand. There amongst the backpackers, she meets the mysterious Ace, a man as lonely as she is and whom she subsequently realizes, has a secret to hide…
A hundred years earlier, Kitty McBride, daughter of an Edinburgh clergyman, is given the opportunity to travel to Australia as the companion of the wealthy Mrs McCrombie. In Adelaide, her fate becomes entwined with Mrs McCrombie’s family, including the identical, yet very different, twin brothers: impetuous Drummond, and ambitious Andrew, the heir to a pearling fortune.
When CeCe finally reaches the searing heat and dusty plains of the Red Centre of Australia, she begins the search for her past. As something deep within her responds to the energy of the area and the ancient culture of the Aboriginal people, her creativity reawakens once more. With help from those she meets on her journey, CeCe begins to believe that this wild, vast continent could offer her something she never thought possible: a sense of belonging, and a home…
I have been a big fan of Lucinda Riley’s work, well before the arrival of her Seven Sisters series. Lucinda has a natural flair for storytelling and her Seven Sisters series is one of the best and the most original series I have ever come across. I have read all three previous books in this series. I have a soft spot for the second book, The Storm Sister, but I must say I devoured the latest and fourth novel, The Pearl Sister.
It is CeCe D’Aplièse’s story that features front and centre in Lucinda Riley’s latest masterpiece series, The Pearl Sister. CeCe is a young woman who has always felt ill at ease in her surroundings, unable to find a sense of peace or home. The death of her beloved father Pa Salt sends her into further despair. England no longer feels like home to CeCe so she makes a rash decision to abandon ship and travel to find her family roots in Australia. Her only clue to her hidden past, which was revealed to her after her father’s death, is a mysterious black and white photograph. This photograph, along with the name of a woman who made a life for herself in Australia over a century ago holds the key to CeCe’s past. Making her way to Australia, CeCe diverts her trip down under to stop over in Thailand. On the exotic beaches of Thailand, CeCe falls into the arms of Ace, a man with many secrets. When CeCe finally makes it to Australia, the story of her past unfolds, involving a young woman named Kitty McBride, from Edinburgh, who made the trek to Australia over a century ago. CeCe discovers that Kitty’s life has ties to her own. At the same time, she negotiates new feelings in love, her culture and her aspirations in the art world. Australia, despite its stark contrast to her life in London and upbringing in Switzerland, awakens something special in CeCe, something she will not be able to leave behind.
Every year since Lucinda Riley has introduced her Seven Sisters series, I sit rather impatiently waiting for the next edition to be published. I have been eagerly waiting for my chance to read The Pearl Sister and as I have come to expect with all Lucinda Riley’s novels, this one was another excellent read. The Pearl Sister is another bulky book, at over 600 pages long, but do not let the breadth of this book intimidate you in any way. I found the pages literally fly away once I settled in comfortably to read this book. I do always ensure I set a bulk of time aside to enjoy this book in close sittings, as I often find it impossible to put any of Riley’s books down! I will also mention if you are new to the series you can read these books as standalone novels. Riley is careful to include plenty of detail and a strong back story, so you never feel out of the loop.
I wasn’t quite sure in the beginning if I was going to connect to CeCe, the main protagonist of The Pearl Sister. Going on her personality traits and flashes of behaviour I have seen in the previous novels of this series, CeCe seemed a little immature for my liking. My doubts were soon cast aside when I settled into CeCe’s adventures and interesting quest to find her family. I loved her immediate growth and maturity that developed soon after she left England. The sequences in exotic Thailand, took me right back to this perfect holiday retreat, which I have personally visited in the past. Riley presents this setting with plenty of vivid detail. I liked the inclusion of Ace, the mysterious man who CeCe encounters in Thailand. It added both romance and an extra thread of mystery to the novel.
When CeCe arrives in Australia, the past narrative thread soon kicks off. As with all of the previous novels in this series, Riley always balances a contemporary storyline, with a family link to the past. It is this storyline that is rich in historical detail and romance. I found that the past narrative generally helps to drive present day story forward. CeCe’s story is carefully linked to Kitty McBride, a woman who arrived in Australia over a century ago, from Scotland. Riley’s approach to this historical narrative is impressive to say the least. Although I have read a good deal of books set around the pioneering days of Australia and the pearling industry in Broome, I was amazed by the accuracy and detail included in this aspect of the novel. So too is Riley’s commitment to including an honest account of the lives of our indigenous over a century ago. Riley includes the effects of the Stolen Generation and the impact of aboriginal missions, which are still being felt today. All credit is due to Riley and her dedication to her research in this area of her latest novel.
I always love how each and every one of the books in this addictive series is able to combine a number of genres in the one unforgettable novel. If you select The Pearl Sister to read, expect a touch of romance, a contemporary storyline, a touch a mystery and a full bodied historical fiction novel. I was enthralled by CeCe’s individual journey and the events that unfolded brought plenty of twists, turns and surprises. When I reached the close of the book, I really did not want it to end, as I know now I have a big wait ahead of me for the next chapter in the series, The Moon Sister. Thankfully, Riley keeps fans of the series happy and morale high with the tantalising sneak peek into the next sister’s story, Tiggy’s quest to uncover her origins. I can’t wait! Thank you for another monumental novel in the Seven Sisters series Lucinda Riley.
The Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley was published on February 27th 2018 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Pearl Sister, Lucinda Riley visit here.
*I wish to thank Pan Macmillan for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.