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Overview Menina Walker was a child of fortune. Rescued after a hurricane in South America, doomed to a life of poverty with a swallow medal as her only legacy, the orphaned toddler was adopted by an American family and taken to a new life. As a beautiful, intelligent woman of nineteen, she is in love, engaged, and excited about the future — until another traumatic event shatters her dreams. Menina flees to Spain to bury her misery in research for her college thesis about a sixteenth-century artist who signed his works with the image of a swallow — the same image as the one on Menina’s medal. But a mugging strands Menina in a musty, isolated Spanish convent. Exploring her surroundings, she discovers the epic sagas of five orphan girls who were hidden from the Spanish Inquisition
and received help escaping to the New World. Is Meninaâ€™s medal a link to them, or to her own past? Did coincidence lead her to the convent, or fate? Both love story and historical thriller, The Sisterhood is an emotionally charged ride across continents and centuries.
Reviews This book is one of the best I've read this year. It starts with a couple's trip to pick up their adopted child. From there, this child grows into a beautiful Spanish young lady. She is engaged to a man (who seems to be the "ideal man) but uses & hurts this innocent woman. She is an art student, who is given a trip to Spain to work on her thesis. She leaves the USA, and is headed for Madrid. Unfortunately,(or not) She misses her connection & has to wait in a small town. There, She is surprises to see the religious floats go by, as Holy week for Catholics is approaching. From this background, this book picks up speed. She is taken to be a tourist, a prostitute, or drug addict by the Captain of the local police. When he talks & sees her, he takes her to a safe place. To an old convent of nuns, who care for unwanted babies, abused or repented Women. While she is there, she learns of the art the nuns have stored. The convent is old & very poor. Our heroine sees a chance to help them, by finding an art work in their stored rooms. The nuns sees a very special medal, hanging from her neck. Dare they hope in miracles of long ago? We learn of the convent's ancient history & their run ins with the Spanish Inquisition. We learn that their nuns were heroic & traveled to distant lands. Along with their missing medal, we learn of a book. So valuable & deadly in the wrong hands, the Catholic Church. And there is a lost "gospel" written inside their book, written in Latin. Read this book, if you want a great adventure for your mind & spirit. Author Helen Bryan has hit a home run with her sprawling saga, The Sisterhood. The novel is composed of two intertwined stories, with one story played out against the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition in the 16th century, the other taking place in modern times. The modern story followed Menina Walker, who had been rescued from the sea off the coast of South America, taken to an orphanage run by Catholic nuns, and later adopted by an American family. The older story was the remarkable tale of a remote Spanish monastery that sent several nuns and four young girls on a perilous voyage to the New World, along
with a special treasure that had great significance for the monastery. The two stories converged when the now grown-up Menina, her dreams shattered after a broken engagement, fled to Spain to do research for her college thesis. Due to a disastrous series of events after her arrival, she ended up stranded in a crumbling old monastery filled with elderly nuns. She soon learned, however, that her misfortune may have been serendipitous, since the monastery could hold some clues to her own origins. Ultimately, her discoveries threatened to shake the foundations of the Christian church to its core, but may also offer a path to peace between warring religions.
Kudos to the author for writing a marvelous piece of historical fiction, one that seamlessly blended a very compelling story with an authentic historical backdrop of the tumultuous 16th century, when the Inquisition terrorized all in its path. The four young girls the Las Golondrinas monastery sent to the New World would have been burned as heretics had the nuns not sent them away to Spanish America. The Sisterhood was really their story, as they adapted to their strange new home while the nuns searched for husbands for them. More than four centuries later, Menina Walker read their stories in the book she was given by the South American monastery's Abbess when she was adopted, and made the connections to some musty old paintings found in the Spanish monastery.
The Sisterhood was one of those rare novels where I raced to the last chapter, but hated to see the book end. It had great stories, characters I really got to know and care about, and a stunning outcome. Finish Time: 6-7 days. This book was unlike any I have read in awhile. I looked back and I guess it is considered historical fiction, could maybe even be historical mystery. Without doing too much research, I’m going to assume that means just some of the major historical events and geography of the time. I do know that I am grateful that I was not a woman in Europe in the 1500′s. Wow – some of the stories of the girls/women in this book are terrible, awful, and I would like to believe they are fiction.
The book jumps back and forth between modern time (the year 2000) following the story of Menina, a 19-year old living in the US. She was adopted as a child and the orphanage that took her in said she came with a mysterious medal and book that were to be given to her on her 16th birthday. As she comes of age and starts questioning her past, she plans a trip to try and find the meaning of the medal, book, and more about her past. The other part of the book takes place in the 1500′s in Spain and Spanish America and is written account (journal/log) of the sisters of a convent (thus the Sisterhood!). There is a lot of detail about the
Inquisition and the Moors and religious freedom (or lack thereof) during the time period (which I’m guessing, again without research, is the true historical part!)
I almost wanted to start making a list or tree to keep track of all the characters that were introduced throughout the historical part of the book. It was very clear at the beginning of each chapter who the narrator was and where they were, but putting it down and picking it back up night after night, I was a little confused. Who knows – that may just be me. That did not take away from the story at all and I kept coming back night after night! Towards the end – it was almost reminiscent of The DaVinci Code as more information was discovered or rather uncovered about an “alternative” or expanded story not included in the Bible. Fictional – but still gets you thinking – what if (in Christian history)?
Overall though, it was a very good story, as I mentioned before, unlike anything I have ever read before. I was anxious to pick it up each day and a little sad to see it end. More challenging that other books of recent and left me thinking, and I would definitely recommend! (So glad to say that finally with certainty!) he Sisterhood by Helen Bryan is a masterful stroke of literary genius told with a passion for the lives of each and every character in vivid detail! In a word Incredible!
The contemporary character, Menina Walker is special. She was found as a toddler in South America, the miraculous survivor of a hurricane, her only possession being an ancient swallow medal. Menina was adopted by an American family, growing into a beautiful and brilliant young woman who thought she had an equally brilliant future ahead. When one brutal event caused her world to come crashing down, Menina escaped to Spain in search of information on a sixteenth century artist who signed his work with a swallow, like the one on her medal.
What Menina uncovered in an old, decaying convent was the life stories of five young women and their brave escapes from death by stealing off to the New World. Depicted in forgotten paintings and in the written histories of the convent, these women were far ahead of their time, often independent thinkers with strong convictions and the personal courage to face danger. Their journeys and their lives uncovered a bond between the convent in Spain and one hidden away in South America. The common link, the swallow, that keeps showing up throughout history. Was this the story of Menina's heritage? Were the lives of
these women designed to guide Menina to find her own way, to heal and move on? To trust her heart? To believe in herself?
This beautifully written story is full of historical references, romance, and mystery, while celebrating the lives of these women and those who had the courage to help them along the way. The brutality of the Spanish Inquisition, with the intolerance of religious beliefs and the treatment of those who were different are frighteningly not unlike actions during contemporary times.
Author Helen Bryan brought each character to life, gave them breath and made them feel real. Her descriptive backgrounds put me in the moment as my reality faded further away with each page turned! This book started off a little slow and it was a bit confusing at times because the author jumps from one time period to another and then back again, but in the end I was really enthralled by this book.
I had read War Brides, another book by the same author, and The Sisterhood was just as enjoyable! The historical facts were perfectly woven into this fiction and I felt as though I was reading straight from the Chronicle.
Another great Helen Bryan book that I would read all over again! This book was absolutely a fabulous read, one of the best I have read in a long time. The story spans centuries and is filled with history that you get to "live." What really amazed me was the way the author delivered a powerful story, right up to the very end. I recommend this book to anyone who loves history and believes in the hope of survival, and the strength of women to act as a force for what is right and good. This is the first book in a very long time that I just could not put down! I love historical fiction, and in this book in particular I really enjoyed the art religious politics and geneaology. It left me wanting more. Would love to see a sequel, but doubt that's going to happen. The author tried to wrap it up quickly in the last chapter by jumping ahead several years to show the outcome. This book is the best book I have read all year! The stories of the past reaching thru centuries to the current time and day and told in such a way that you felt like you knew and understood each character and her flaws. A book for women everywhere. Beautiful story filled with history, romance, and mystery!
I really liked this book. It was a theme I enjoy and I feel it is very fitting. At first all the characters were hard to keep straight (I had the same problem with War Brides). But you really jobs with the and you can keep them straight. My only complaint about this and War Brides is that they end rather abruptly. Loved the piece of historical fiction. The author intertwined a present day story with a tale from the time of the Spanish inquisition during the 16th century. Though I don't know a grest deal of historical informatoon on this time period, I thoroughly enjoyed the story. This is a wonderful book, especially if you enjoy period pieces. As I was reading I felt as if I was watching a movie. When I put the book down I thought I was missing scenes. I really loved this story. I loved this book, but then. It touches on the Divine Feminine. It champions abused women. It finds a refuge for them. Why this book is about my sisters! Oh! That's the name of it. We are legion.
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