Whether you’re going off on vacation, hanging at home, or just looking to hunker down with a really great read, you probably will want to pick up this generously sized novel (I like big books, do you?). It’s full of strong and interesting female characters, adventure, intrigue, history, and even a touch of romance.
I’m a huge fan of historical fiction. While I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, I do really like history. And that’s why I absolutely love reading a well-researched novel that make the past come alive for me. When an author can engage my imagination and teach me a little something by blending real-life occurrences with actual and fictional characters, well let’s just say I’m a happy little reader. And also the reason I really enjoyed The Lost Sisterhood and it’s retelling of the mythical stories of The Amazons (yes, like Wonder Woman).
The Lost Sisterhood tells the story of Diana, a young and aspiring–but somewhat aimless–professor at Oxford. Her fascination with the history of the Amazons, the legendary warrior women of ancient Greece, is deeply connected with her own family’s history; her grandmother in particular. When Diana is invited to consult on an archeological excavation, she quickly realizes that here, finally, may be the proof that the Amazons were real.
The Amazons’ “true” story–and Diana’s history–is threaded along with this modern day hunt. This historical back-story focuses on a group of women, and more specifically on two sisters, whose fight to survive takes us through ancient Athens and to Troy, where the novel reinvents our perspective on the famous Trojan War.
This novel is full of interesting and enduring characters, fascinating history, exotic climes and a consuming parallel storyline (which totally works for me, even though I know a lot of people don’t like the jumping back and forth). The main characters are all based on strong women and feminist undertones subtle enough that you can either embrace them and learn, or ignore and just enjoy the ride.
The historical flashbacks were definitely my favourite part. I felt myself pushing through the present day chapters to get back to ‘my friends’ and see what would happen next. Surprisingly, Diana, the main female protagonist, was my least favourite character. She demonstrated some irritating weaknesses (there were several moments I wanted to slap her upside the head), although she was redeemed by the end through her development.
I did find that at times the supporting characters were a little flat, particularly her love interest (I’m not telling you who I’m talking about). We knew we wanted them to get together, but then when they did, there was a lack of chemistry. You knew they were meant to be, but as a reader, you just wanted to feel it more.
From a story perspective, the plot was well though and robust. For such a large story, the continuity and attention to detail was extraordinary. The mystery and intrigue was just enough to keep our interest piqued, but not too much as to frustrate (nothing like reading a really long book and having to wait and wait and wait and wait for THE moment when all becomes clear). Fortier built the tension consistently and left just enough breadcrumbs for a smart reader to start to figure some (not all) story elements out on her own.
I like it Anne Fortier’s writing. A lot. I have her previous book, Juliet, on my endless TBR list (which is unwieldy and never seems to get smaller). She is a great storyteller and doesn’t bog the plot down with the extras that seem to be part and parcel of this genre (maps and roads and battles and other historical things that are probably important but just hard to picture – well for me, anyways). I don’t know about you, but I’m not always in the mood to suffer through endless descriptions of ancient scenery. But I didn’t have to in this case. Fortier gave us what we needed – a great story and characters – in interesting yet consumable language. She let our imaginations and the characters take centre stage. We could create a world of our liking, and just place Fortier’s people into it.
If you’re not frightened of 700 pages and you like a good book that has just about everything, then Then Lost Sisterhood is right for you. If you liked People of the Book, The Firebird, or A Discovery of Witches, you will absolutely love The Lost Sisterhood.