The Sisterhood

The Sisterhood

by Helen Bryan

Debbie Weiss (03/30/14): In her review, Ricki gives a good summary about this book's plot. The story line definitely had potential to make for a great book: a young girl (Menina) is rescued off the coast of South America wearing a necklace with a swallow on it. How did the girl get there and what is the significance of the necklace?

We learn about the convent in South America where the young girl is taken upon her rescue and we learn about a related convent in Spain that existed during the Spanish Inqisition. Young Menina is adopted before long, but before she is taken to the U.S., the nuns give her a book with a swallow on it --- a swallow that matches the swallow on her necklace. She is to read the book when she is older. Menina grows up and through the research for her dissertation in Art History and through amazing coincidences, she finds herself situated at the very convent mentioned above in Spain. As expected, she eventually discovers the story behind the locket and the book with with the swallows on them.

I felt that this story was very contrived and not realistic. I got confused with all the characters, all the nuns and all the inhabitants of both the convents in both of the countries. I found it hard to follow the story with all the jumping back and forth from the present to the past in the U.S., Spain and South America. Most of all, I was disappointed in what the big secret in the book ended up being. The reviews on Amazon regarding this book were mixed. Some people loved it and others were disappointed as I was.
Rating: ***

Ricki Brodie (01/07/14): Menina Walker was rescued of the coast of South America, taken to a Catholic orphanage and adopted by an American family. When she was found the only item she had was a necklace with a swallow on it. The nuns give her a book with the swallow embossed on it for her to read when she gets older. This present day story is intertwined with a story of nuns fleeing a remote Spanish monastery for the New World to avoid the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition.

After a bad engagement, Menina travels to Spain to do research for her college thesis. After being mugged police officer installs her in the same remote monastery to protect her from men who would love to take advantage of her until the next bus arrives in town. Menina finds that the monastery holds artwork that relates back to the swallow and the book she was given. She finds she needs to go to South America to get answers about her past and that of the monastery. What she finds could alter history and the teachings of the Catholic Church.

The book is very compelling. Once you are in the monastery you feel and smell the decay within. There is a heightened sensory awareness. The relationship between Menina and her best friend, life with the nuns and the conflicts with the police officer are well drawn.
Rating: ****

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