An epic and transporting novel, the latest installment of the “heart-wrenching, uplifting, and utterly enthralling” (Lucy Foley, author of The Guest List) Seven Sisters series, unravelling between the dazzling streets of modern-day New York City and the breathtaking plains of 1940s colonial Kenya.
Electra d’Aplièse is a top model who seems to have it all: beauty, fame, and wealth. But beneath the glittery veneer, she’s cracking under all the pressure. When her father dies, she turns to alcohol and drugs to ease the pain. As friends and colleagues fear for her health, Electra receives a shocking letter from a stranger who claims to be her grandmother.
In 1939, New Yorker Cecily Huntley-Morgan arrives in Kenya’s Lake Naivasha region for the exciting chance to stay with her godmother, the famous socialite Kiki Preston. But after a sheltered upbringing, she’s astounded by the hedonistic antics of the other ex-pats in the infamous Happy Valley set. Cecily soon grows to love her stunning but complicated new home, and she even accepts a proposal of marriage from an enigmatic older cattle farmer. After a shocking discovery and with war looming, Cecily feels isolated and alone. Until she meets a young woman in the woods and makes her a promise that will change the course of her life forever.
Featuring Lucinda Riley’s “engaging and mesmerizing” (Library Journal, starred review) storytelling and filled with unforgettable and moving characters, The Sun Sister explores how love can cross seemingly impossible boundaries.
Jet Set Model, Drugs, Hidden Past = Absorbing!
NOTE: Atria Books granted me early access to this book in exchange for an honest review. Scheduled U.S. Publication - May 19, 2020.
This is the sixth book in the wildly-successful, seven-novel series Lucinda Riley is writing about seven, multi-ethnic girls from around the world, adopted by the same wealthy, white man. Each book follows one daughter's journey to discover her birth origin. This one is another fast and easy read with a compelling story line that covers multiple generations, from wealthy families in late 1930s New York, to World War II Kenya, and back to New York in 2008.
Electra D’Aplièse is the 2008 protagonist- one of the world's top models -- beautiful, rich, and in-demand --seemingly living a privileged life anyone would envy. But beneath the glamour, Electra feels adrift. Distant from her sisters, numbing her feelings with drugs and alcohol, and recently dumped by her rock star boyfriend. Then, she receives a message from a woman claiming to be her grandmother.
From her grandmother, Electra slowly discovers her birth story, beginning in 1939 with Cecily Huntley-Morgan, a wealthy New Yorker whose family sends her to England and Kenya to nurse a broken heart. There's Kiki, Cecily's godmother, another wealthy woman who has built an independent life on the shores of Kenya's picturesque Lake Naivasha. And Bill Forsythe, a cattle farmer with strong connections to the Maasai tribe, who seems happiest out in the wilderness.
Readers get to observe a lot of hypocrisy among the upper classes, around race relations and sexual double standards. We get immersed in the famous Happy Valley set of ex-pats living in and exploiting Kenya during the British Colonial Era and a bit about the widespread-but-never-realized optimism that surrounded Kenya achieving independence. And we even learn a bit about the proud Maasai tribe, with some cultural expectations surprisingly similar to those of the white, Western world.
Discovering her past helps spur a transformation for Electra, allowing her to let go of some self-destructive behaviors and open herself up to new people and opportunities. Along the way, we witness some of the most emotionally powerful subject matter in the novel --around characters who suffer from addiction and the destructive impact it has on their lives, relationships, and loved ones. AND, how vastly different the resources and treatment options are, depending on whether an addict is rich or poor.
I completely enjoyed reading Electra's story, as I've enjoyed this entire series. I'm a huge fan of Lucinda Riley and think of her as someone who understands how to craft a good story. I will note, however, that this is the first book in the series that seemed to wander at times and felt long in places. Just not quite as tight as the others. Though that criticism is certainly NOT going to stop me from reading the next (and final?) novel, whenever it comes out.