Title: The Moon Sister
Author: Lucinda Riley
Published: October 30th 2018
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary/Historical
Rating: 3.5 stars
Tiggy Aplièse is doing the job she loves; working at a deer sanctuary up in the raw beauty of the highlands of Scotland. When the sanctuary has to close, she is offered a job on the vast and isolated Kinnaird estate as a wildlife consultant by the elusive and troubled Laird, Charlie Kinnaird, she has no idea that the move will not only irrevocably alter her future, but ironically, bring her into contact with her past. She meets Chilly, an ancient gypsy, who has lived for years on the estate, having fled from Spain seventy years before. He tells her that not only does she possess a sixth sense, passed down from her gypsy ancestors, but it was foretold long ago that he would be the one to send her back home …
It is 1912 and, in the pitifully poor gypsy community that have been forced to make their homes for hundreds of years outside the city walls of Granada in the seven caves of Sacromonte, under the shadow of the magnificent Alhambra Palace, Lucía Amaya-Albaycin is born. Destined to be the greatest flamenco dancer of her generation, La Candela – as she is named, due to the inner flame that burns through her when she dances- is whisked away by her ambitious father at the tender age of ten to dance to his guitar in the flamenco bars of Barcelona. Her mother, Maria, is devastated by the loss of her daughter, and as civil war threatens in Spain, tragedy strikes the rest of her family. Now in Madrid, Lucía and her troupe of dancers are forced to flee for their lives, their journey taking them far across the water to South America and eventually, to North America and New York itself – Lucía’s long-held dream. But to pursue it, she must choose between her passion for her career and the man she adores…
As Tiggy follows the trail back to her exotic but complex Spanish past, and – under the watchful eye of a gifted gypsy bruja – begins to accept and develop her own gift, she too must decide to whether to return to Kinnaird, and Charlie…
‘Trust your instincts Tiggy, they will never let you down.’
So we come to the fifth installment in the creative The Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley. This epic series has travelled across lands near and far. It has crossed many different time periods and incorporated some of the most stunning cities in the world. We have met royalty, musicians, dancers and so many more colorful personalities along the way. It is time meet Taygete, or lovingly nicknamed ‘Tiggy’ after the hedgehog, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle from Beatrix Potter’s ionic book. Tiggy’s story takes us from the Scottish Highlights, to the pulsating heat of Granada, which represents a great dichotomy. The Moon Sister in another unforgettable journey into the unknown origins of this intriguing family dynamic.
Heavily impacted by the death of her beloved adopted father, Tiggy mends her broken heart by accepting a position deep in the Scottish Highlands, on an exclusive estate, caring for animals. Nature and animals is what keeps Tiggy grounded. When Tiggy encounters an old gypsy by the name of Chilly on the grounds of her employer’s abode, her life is forever changed. This ageing gypsy has an important message for Tiggy, which she takes on board. Chilly’s instincts tell him that Tiggy must answer a calling to return to her roots, and connect with her ancestors. This is a big journey that will inevitably take Tiggy far from Scotland and into the heart of Europe, beginning in Granada. When Tiggy arrives she uncovers some fascinating connections to her past and lineage. At the heart of Tiggy’s parentage is a famous flamenco dancer and what follows is a story haunted by ambition, heartbreak and war. Tiggy is guided by a formidable force in her quest to unveil her descendants. Tiggy must decide if her past is where she wants to remain, or if she should return to her beloved Kinnaird estate in Scotland.
The Seven Sisters collection is one series that I have remained loyal and connected to since it first appeared on bookshelves in 2014, where has the time gone? Lucinda Riley has done an excellent job in sustaining our interest in this collection. Riley has also worked hard to bring a new epic blockbuster year after year to her faithful readers. Riley has simultaneously allowed each sister to uncover their own lineage, while at the same time, she has dropped clues about the whereabouts of the supposedly deceased father figure Pa Salt. Riley has also playfully hinted at the possible existence of a seventh sister.
I had a mixed relationship with The Moon Sister and it is not my favourite of the collection, I think that title still goes out to Ally of The Storm Sister. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Tiggy, but it was the past story that failed to ignite a sense of passion in me. I found this quite perplexing, as the previous books in the series have had me singing the praises of the past backstory, far more than the present day narrative. Tiggy was a beautiful soul. I loved her natural affinity and protection for animals. Tiggy’s unique connection to the natural world and the fauna around her was a joy to observe. I particularly loved the inclusion of the white stag, which was almost mystical. Some aspects of Tiggy’s character across as a little too far-fetched for me and I’m not sure I was completely convinced of her magical healing properties. I did appreciate Tiggy’s career passion, her outlook in life, her strict routines and moral code, it was nice to see this mindset in a young woman. Likewise, I loved the romance that skirts around Tiggy. I could understand her reservations and I do hope we see a future for Tiggy and her male counterpart.
Now onto the past narrative thread, that overshadows much of this story. What did work for me was the stunning locales. I would dearly love to visit Granada, Portugal and the like. The Moon Sister was the perfect armchair travel experience for me, it was very exotic and immersive. However, my distaste for one of the central players in the past narrative was enough to put me off this thread. Although I loved the historical elements and the cultural references, I was more than ready to return to Tiggy in the present day! This is a rare occurrence for this series, but unfortunately this is how I felt, and I know I am not the only one. It seems a shame as there was a rich history of the civil war, the art of flamenco dancing, social changes, gypsy living, cave dwellers and so much more. I cannot fault Riley for bringing this part of the world and history alive, but the influence of the character of Lucia sadly offset this segment of the book.
Luckily, The Moon Sister is saved by the gentle heart of Tiggy and her compelling life in the present day. Tiggy is surrounded by a good set of supporting cast, which helped to lift some of the more unlikeable segments in this book. I developed a soft spot for Charlie, Zara, Chilly and Pegasus. This story would not be the same without these wonderful character additions.
A lead in to Electra, who is quite possibly the last and final sister in the series, rounds off the close of The Moon Sister’s enlightening journey.
The Moon Sister by Lucinda Riley was published on 30th October 2018 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Moon Sister, Lucinda Riley, visit here.
*I wish to thank Pan Macmillan for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.