Ally D’Apliése hears of the death of her adoptive father, known as Pa Salt, whilst training to take part in one of sailing’s most gruelling races. Back at home, Atalantis in Switzerland, with her five sisters she is given a letter from Pa Salt and map co-ordinates that gives Ally a clue to her heritage. Ally’s journey takes her to Bergen in Norway and the story of Anna Landvik, who a hundred yeas ago sang in the first performance of Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt. As Ally researches her past she also begins to question why there is not a seventh sister and just who Pa Salt really is.
The Storm Sister is he second instalment of Lucinda Riley’s Seven Sister novels that are loosely based on the myth of the constellation of the same name (see details at the end of the review to learn more). It is a wonderful multi faceted book that takes the reader to Switzerland, Greece, Norway, London and Germany and charts Norwegian history from the early twentieth century to the present. The thread that holds it all together is Grieg’s composition of Peer Gynt and Anna’s descendants.
Lucinda Riley’s research is meticulous and detailed. She really brings alive the history of Norway and how culture and politics changed Europe and in particular the world of music by the time Europe was embroiled in World War II. The parallel timelines run seamlessly through the book, both as compelling to read as each other.
The characters are many, and all fictional apart from Grieg, although you could believe that the fictional characters were based on fact as well as they written with so much detail and verisimilitude. I really enjoyed Anna’s story, from her beginnings in the Norwegian mountains singing to the cows to her moving to Bergen and finding herself the centre of attention. She enlists the readers empathy as she marries for love, but a love that costs her her happiness and career. The role of women in the twentieth century is a theme that runs through the book and we see how the role of women has changed over time.
Grieg’s music is very much at the centre of Ally’s story and it is also a metaphor for the plot. Like a musical score Ally’s story has romance, tragedy, heart stopping moments and plenty of characters waiting in the wings.
I found this an engaging, informative and most importantly a pleasureable book to read. It certainly lived up to my expectations after reading the first in the series, The Seven Sisters last year. It is one of those books that you can get lost in, and I now eagerly await the third book in the series, The Shadow Sister that is published in paperback on April 20th. It is a simply stunning novel.
Out in paperback 20 April.