Electra, the youngest d’Aplièse sister in the Seven Sisters series of adoption mysteries by Lucinda Riley, has always seemed the most explosive personality of the siblings. And so The Sun Sister, sixth in the series and the one dedicated to telling the story of Electra’s family history, is explosive too. It’s a 5* read and a long one, 850 pages, as Riley digs deep into Electra’s African origins and the drug epidemic of today’s world.
Supermodel Electra seems to have it all, fame, beauty, money, rock star boyfriend, a glamorous lifestyle in Manhattan. But she also has a drink and drug habit. Her behaviour is erratic, obsessive, selfish and angry, made worse by the sudden death of her adoptive father Pa Salt and being ditched by her boyfriend Mitch. Cutting herself off from friends and family, Electra is spiralling downwards when she receives a letter from a strange woman claiming to be her grandmother.
The Sun Sister tells the story of Electra’s life now in New York 2008, interleaved with that of Cecily Huntley-Morgan, daughter of a fine New York family who, in 1938, has just been jilted by her fiance. Taking up the invitation of her glamorous and eccentric godmother Kiki Preston to escape the gossip and return with her to Africa, Cecily finds herself part of the infamous Happy Valley set living beside Lake Naivasha in Kenya. Unable to stick with Kiki’s partying and frequent hangovers, Cecily makes a friend of Katherine Stewart, soon be married to cattle rancher Bobby Sinclair, who introduces her to life in the bush and to Bobby’s friend, fellow rancher Bill Forsythe. With war approaching, Cecily finds herself in an impossible position. She must choose whether to stay in Africa or take a risky passage home to America. She stays and life presents her with tragedy and a discovery that will change the direction of her life.
Cecily’s story is told to Electra by her grandmother, Stella Jackson, a prominent black rights activist in America. With Stella’s help Electra begins to understand how being black affected her childhood in a predominantly white world. In drug rehab Electra must face up to her addictive behaviour, understand its roots and learn to live life differently. Stella insists that in order to understand her birth family, Electra must first learn about Cecily’s life in Africa
Previous novels have concentrated on the stories of the individual sister’s birth family two generations back, and I have longed to know more about the sister’s birth parents. I wanted the family connections to be immediate, more accessible, and in The Sun Sister Riley delivers. The life of Electra’s birth mother acts as plot pivot which deepens the emotion of the story. Interestingly, in the previous six books I found Electra the least sympathetic and difficult to like sister, but The Sun Sister explains how Electra became the adult she is at the beginning of this ambitious series. She has the most dramatic character curve of any of the sisters so far.
Overall, The Sun Sister is excellent though perhaps slightly too long, understandable given the difficult subjects addressed. Only one book left to go, the mysterious, missing, seventh sister.
Read my reviews of the first five novels in the series:-
If you like this, try:-
‘The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon’ by Sarah Steele
‘Tainted Tree’ by Jacquelynn Luben
‘The Carer’ by Deborah Moggach
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