Official Stuff –
Author – Helen Bryan
Pages – 420
Publisher – Amazon Publishing
Expected Release Date – April 30th, 2013
Menina Walker was a child of fortune. Rescued after a hurricane in South America, doomed to a life of poverty with a swallow medal as her only legacy, the orphaned toddler was adopted by an American family and taken to a new life.
As a beautiful, intelligent woman of nineteen, she is in love, engaged, and excited about the future—until another traumatic event shatters her dreams. Menina flees to Spain to bury her misery in research for her college thesis about a sixteenth-century artist who signed his works with the image of a swallow—the same image as the one on Menina’s medal.
But a mugging strands Menina in a musty, isolated Spanish convent. Exploring her surroundings, she discovers the epic sagas of five orphan girls who were hidden from the Spanish Inquisition and received help escaping to the New World. Is Menina’s medal a link to them, or to her own past? Did coincidence lead her to the convent, or fate?
Both love story and historical thriller, The Sisterhood is an emotionally charged ride across continents and centuries.
My Rating – 2 ¾ Stars
*I received an advanced digital copy of this novel through Netgalley on behalf of Amazon Publishing*
Menina Walker was found stranded on a boat as a toddler with a strange medal around her neck, after a hurricane in South America. Taken in by a convent that was familiar with the symbol on the medal, she is eventually adopted by an American couple who raise her to be Baptist and to be a good girl.
And indeed she does grow up to be a good girl. Very Southern Belle, very polite and smart and religious and wants to wait until marriage to have sex. She gets engaged to a hopeful politician, who turns out to be a giant douche and attacks her shortly before their wedding.
This leads to Menina calling off the wedding and hopping on a plane to Spain to finish her thesis on a painter that signed all his painting with a swallow similar to the one found wrapped around her neck when she was discovered after the hurricane. When she gets to Spain she loses the group she’s traveling with, decides to travel by herself, and falls asleep in an open courtyard with all her belongings and surprise! Her things get stolen. When she goes to the police for help, the Captain sets her up in a nearby convent, that happens to have a famous reputation, until after Easter where he can take her to a another town to use the phone. Once in the convent she discovers secrets of her ancestry and the history of the convent and the painter she set out to learn about.
My biggest issue with this book? Out of thirty-five chapters, only twelve of them are actually about Menina. Most of the chapters are Chronicle entries from the 1500s about the famous convent and its nuns. It gives the history of the convent and how it sent novices away to South America to being anew. The convent was afraid of the Inquisition because it took in girls and women of questionable birth and protected Muslim and Jewish women.
The book gets very Da Vinci Code-like towards the end and the last chapter skims over thirteen years of Menina’s life, which I would have preferred to read! That and the plausibility of a straight-A student going off by herself in Europe and falling asleep out in the open irritates me so much! She didn’t carry anything in her pockets or close to her body and had no kind of emergency plan. She also gets mixed up in some weird police investigation that makes no sense and something about people following her that’s mention several times but has no resolution.
The history was interesting but overall I was very disappointed with this book.