Tag Archives: Books

#Family #mystery ‘The Orphan’s Gift’ by @RenitaDSilva #orphans #India

The Orphan’s Gift by Renita D’Silva tells the stories of two women, Alice and Janaki, and moves across four decades between India and England. It is a deceptive tale of love and loss and the mystery of how these two young women are connected at a time when certain love was forbidden. It is an unforgiving world where broken rules may be punished by death, isolation and poverty and where the sanctions may come from those closest to you. Renita d'Silva

We first meet Alice, aged four, living a privileged life in the house of her parents, surrounded by beauty, warmth, and servants. But there are shadows too. Alice’s parents are distant and she finds love and companionship with her Ayah and Ayah’s son, Raju. Alice’s mother is delicate and spends all her time in a shadowed bedroom, her father is Deputy Commissioner of the British Government in India. Alice’s story starts in 1909 when the first agitations of Indian independence begin.

Janaki’s story begins in 1944 when she is raised by nuns in an Indian orphanage, she was left there as a tiny baby, wrapped in a hand-made green cardigan. Desperate for love, Janaki learns a difficult lesson; that even when love is found, there is no insurance against future pain.

The lives of both women are coloured by their early years and their differing experiences of love. Each story on its own is fascinating, but the fascination comes from how the two women are linked. Occasionally we see a tantalising glimpse of the elderly Alice in India in 1986, as an unknown visitor arrives. Hints are given in the Prologue which of course I read then forgot about as I became enthralled in the world of the book. Only as the book approaches its end does the significance of the Prologue become clear. D’Silva’s theme is how life turns on a sixpence. ‘It takes so little to change a life.’

I particularly enjoyed Janaki’s life at the orphanage, her friendship with Arthy, the pact the two girls make to study as doctors after meeting Mother Theresa and seeing one of their friends die because of the orphanage’s inability to pay for a doctor. Janaki’s story jumps forwards to the 1960s when she is a trailblazing doctor of gynaecology, at a time when female doctors are rare and given many column inches, but when she feels at her loneliest.

Love and its subsequent loss is not always fair, it hurts and sometimes is unjust. But this is also a story about the strength and truth of honest love which transcends prejudice, poverty and status. This book is full of the colours and scents of India but at its heart is a darkness and sadness which jabs an emotional punch. D’Silva is my go-to author for novels about India; she creates a sensory world which never fails to delight but into this setting she weaves stories tackling moral and heart-breaking themes.
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If you like this, try:-
The Ghost of Lily Painter’ by Caitlin Davies
Deadly Descent’ by Charlotte Hinger
The Pearl Sister’ by Lucinda Riley

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE ORPHAN’S GIFT by @RenitaDSilva #bookreview https://wp.me/paZ3MX-f2 via #AdoptionStories

#Adoption #Mystery ‘The Moon Sister’ by Lucinda Riley @lucindariley

Fifth in the Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley, The Moon Sister is the story of Tiggy, wildlife conservationist and warm-hearted introvert. Each of the D’Apliese sisters is different with diverse skills, interests and hugely varying birth stories. Tiggy’s story alternates between a Highland estate where she is managing the rewilding of Scottish wildcats, and the flamenco world in Spain during the 1930s. Lucinda Riley

The Kinnaird Estate is a beautiful, isolated, wild place. The four wild cats move into their custom-built enclosure and Tiggy moves into a shared estate cottage with fellow worker Cal. Riley builds the Kinnaird community quickly and skilfully from new Laird Charlie to housekeeper Beryl and old retainer Chilly. It is Chilly – speaking in a muddled mixture of English, Spanish and Romani – who introduces the first hints of premonition, seeing and herbal remedies. He tells Tiggy she has healing hands. Caught up in the twists and turns of the Kinnaird family, the frictions in Charlie and Ulrika’s marriage and their tempestuous daughter Zara, Tiggy grieves for Pa Salt and is curious about her own birth family. In his farewell letter, Pa Salt tells her she comes from a gifted line of seers. She must go to Granada in Spain, to the gypsy area called Sacromonte, where she must knock on a blue door and ask for Angelina. Tiggy delays, unsure of the truth, attracted to Charlie. But when she is injured in a poaching incident on the estate, Tiggy feels upset, confused and wronged. She flies to Granada. This is a quick reminder that Tiggy, who lives the most normal, ordinary life of the sisters so far, is far from a normal girl and when times get tough, the D’Apliese wealth is ever-present.

The second storyline is that of Lucia, Tiggy’s grandmother, who rises from a tiny girl living in deepest poverty in Sacromonte to a world-famous flamenco dancer. Though Tiggy’s character and situation is appealing, I found Lucia a more difficult character. By nature energetic and stubborn, Lucia turns into a selfish, spoiled woman who rides roughshod over others. Exploited by her feckless father who keeps control of her money and career, Lucia’s few moments of caring for others were not enough for me to warm to her. But the world in which she lives, the Sacromonte community, the gypsy brujas, and the violence and depravities of the Spanish Civil War were fascinating to read. As with the stories of the other sisters, Riley concentrates most of the birth family story on a generation further back than the birth parents and there were times when I longed for less flamenco and more bruja. I also wanted to know Chilly’s story and how he came to work on a Scottish estate.

There are more teasers in this book about the truth of Pa Salt’s identity and death, but nothing concrete. There is also the reappearance of Zed Eszu, who can only be described as a sleazy millionaire cad, who first appeared in Maia’s story. What lies behind his fascination with the six D’Apliese sisters. And is Pa Salt really dead?
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Next in the series is The Sun Sister, the story of Electra. Here are my reviews of the first four books in the series:-
The Seven Sisters
The Storm Sister
The Shadow Sister
The Pearl Sister

If you like this, try:-
The Blood Detective’ by Dan Waddell
The Marriage Certificate’ by Stephen Molyneux
‘Deadly Descent’ by Charlotte Hinger

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE MOON SISTER by @lucindariley #adoption #mystery https://wp.me/paZ3MX-df via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

True #adoption story… Emmeline Pankhurst #truestory

Emmeline Pankhurst was a key figure in the UK women’s suffrage movement in the early twentieth century. Founder of the WSPU [the Women’s Suffrage and Political Union], dedicated to ‘deeds not words’, it used action to gain the attention of political decision-makers. Windows were smashed, police officers assaulted. Pankhurst was a controversial figure, imprisoned repeatedly where they staged hunger strikes and were force fed.

Emmeline Pankhurst

[photo: Wikipedia]

What is not so widely known is Pankhurst’s support for women during the Great War, and the plight of war babies born to single women and fathers who were away fighting. Pankhurst established an adoption home at Campden Hill in West London. She was criticised at the time for supporting the parents of children born out of wedlock, but Pankhurst declared the welfare of the children was her only concern. Pankhurst saw the poverty of single mothers in her work as a Poor Law Guardian, part of the work of the board of guardians, the authorities which administered the Poor Law in the UK from 1835 to 1930.

Pankhurst herself went on to adopt four children, who she renamed Kathleen King, Flora Mary Gordon, Joan Pembridge and Elizabeth Tudor. They lived in Holland Park, London. She famously commented when asked how, at the age of 57 and with no steady income, she could take on the burden of bringing up four more children, Pankhurst said: ‘My dear, I wonder I didn’t take forty.’

Emmeline Pankhurst

‘Suffragette’ by Emmeline Pankhurst BUY

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Emmeline Pankhurst #adoption #truestory #warbabies via #AdoptionStoriesBlog https://wp.me/paZ3MX-1p

#Adoption #Mystery ‘The Seven Sisters’ by Lucinda Riley @lucindariley

In its scope, The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley reminds me of Eighties family mega-stories, paperbacks as thick as doorstops. This is the first in a series; the first five are already published. I recommend suspending your ‘instinct for the literal’ and throwing yourself into the world of the book. Some of the story set-up seems unrealistic – unbelievable wealth, mysterious father, beautiful adopted sisters – this is not a normal world. But I quickly became caught up in the historical story.

Lucinda Riley
 

Pa Salt has died suddenly; he is the fabulously wealthy, secretive, reclusive adoptive father to six sisters whose origins are a mystery. Only when he has gone do they realise they should have asked him for information. Each of the sisters is given a clue and a letter. Also in the envelope is a triangular-shaped tile. The Seven Sisters is the story of the eldest D’Aplièse sister. Maia’s clue is a map reference that takes her to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil where she meets an enigmatic elderly woman. 

The book came alive for me with the story, eighty years earlier, of Izabela Rosa Bonifacio. Izabela, daughter of a nouveau riche coffee merchant in Rio, is facing an arranged marriage. Desperate to see more of the world before she settles down to a stifling life of marriage to a husband she doesn’t love, she persuades her father and fiancé to allow her to travel to Paris with her friend, Maria Elisa, daughter of architect Heitor da Silva Costa. This section of the novel enthralled me; the design and sculpting of the Cristo sculpture for the top of the Corvocado mountain, all based on historical fact. 

I connected with Izabela in a way I didn’t with Maia. Maia uncovers the story of Izabela with the help of Brazilian author Floriano Quintelas, whose latest novel Maia has translated into French. In the course of her research, Maia must face the shadows of her own past, her regrets and shame, in order to move on. I enjoyed Izabela’s story but at the back of my mind I queried its relevance to Maia; Izabela was too old be her mother. I missed a direct connection to Maia and this frequently took me out of the world of the story.

That connection does come but as the story finished I was left with almost as many questions as at the beginning. The last chapter is devoted to the second sister, Ally, with new mysteries for the second book in the series.

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If you like this genealogy mysteries, try:-

‘Pale as the Dead’ by Fiona Mountain

Blood-Tied’ by Wendy Percival

Relative Strangers’ by Hunter Davies

If you’d like to share a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: When Pa Salt dies, his adopted daughters search for the truth: THE SEVEN SISTERS by @lucindariley #adoption https://wp.me/paZ3MX-14 via #AdoptionStoriesBlog