The Sisterhood: Book summary and reviews of The Sisterhood by Helen Bryan

The Sisterhood

By Helen Bryan

The Sisterhood
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2013,
    420 pages.

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Book Summary

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 Menina'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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"This is one of my top 5 books of the year, I knew it would be as I was reading... I don't usually reread novels, but if I ever did, I would start with this one." - Mom With a Book Blog

"The Sisterhood is a great historical fiction novel. I would recommend the book to anyone interested in the Catholic Church during the Spanish Inquisition, women's place in religion and the home, and anyone who enjoys a good, sprawling story." - Excellent Library Blog

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Sarah N. (Corte Madera, CA)
Great Story Line...
It was the "voices" of the different characters that I had a hard time distinguishing. I felt that the women from earlier eras in the book would have had a more formal tone. I often found myself having to backtrack to figure out who was "speaking." I was captivated by what was happening and enjoyed how things connected.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Kat F. (Palatine, IL)
I was so looking forward to it...
I've been mulling over this review for a week or so now. I couldn't figure out what the problem was for me.

There are several interesting story lines and the author did a good job telling each story. I really enjoyed reading each story for its own sake.

I couldn't figure it out and then it hit me – none of the stories were completed. The author did not tie up the loose ends of each story, and did not weave them together so the reader saw the whole picture.

The story(s) spanned from 1500's through current date. That's a lot of time to cover and there was only one weak thread that went through all of it. It was kind of like saying I am attached to my female ancestors for the past 400 years because we all had brown hair on our head.

The reader (and the author) would have been better served if each story line had been its own book with a beginning, middle and end. They should have been part of a series that clearly the relationship between the story lines and how each impacted the other. I would have bought them all.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Laurette A. (Rome, NY)
Good...but...
Having recently begun researching my own family tree I was excited to read this book. I liked it, but not as much as I had hoped. While the author put great detail into the background stories of the girls in the convent, I never felt she fleshed out the main character, Menina very well. I would have liked more of her back story and more about her relationship with Alejandro. For such a long book, the ending felt rushed as if the author was tired of writing and wanted to wrap things up quickly. As I said, I liked it and am glad I read it; however, I'm not sure I would recommend it to my friends.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Mary Jane D. (Arlington Heights, IL)
An epic historical read
The Sisterhood covers a long time period alternating between present and past. I enjoyed the historical parts and the interesting characters that were developed. Just as I thought it was bogging down a bit a new character or situation would be introduced. I was a little disappointed in the ending and wanted more detail of the main character's connection. Catholics would disagree with the premise of the "new" Gospel.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Annie P. (Murrells Inlet, SC)
The Sisterhood by Helen Bryan
is no easy book to read. It's long, it's slow in places, and there are so many facts and references there is no way to keep track of them all. Besides, there are a host of characters who must all be acknowledged and remembered that it is a challenge to get through this story. But, the great thing is, it is worth it! I was afraid at times that I was reading heresy and nearly put the book down, but I'm glad I didn't; the story is compelling. I carried my book everywhere I went, a few minutes here, half an hour there, until I finally came to the end, only to decide I need to read it again just because it is such a terrific story. Menina is a perfect protagonist, a regular person who was given a gift of such magnitude, the ability to search out the meaning of her work, and be able to develop it so fully.

Thank you, Ms. Bryan, for this gift.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Patricia L. (Seward, AK)
Sisters through the ages
Sisterhood by Helen Bryan was an entertaining and informative read, especially if one is interested in the history of convents and those who dwell within. The most intriguing aspect of this book was the notion that there were/are non-nuns behind the secure doors and the stories that are told as a result. How women act and help each other as they are rendered powerless by events such as the Spanish Inquisition and into the 21st century with kidnapping and forced prostitution is the premise of this book. Blending history and current events under this theme makes a good read albeit not great literature. Bryan's characters and events sometimes have the feel of a romance/adventure novel. Recommended for summer reading.

...29 more reader reviews

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After ten years as a barrister, Helen Bryan left law to write full time. In 2003, she received the Award of Merit from the Colonial Dames of America for her biography Martha Washington: First Lady of Liberty. Her first work of historical fiction, War Brides, was a bestseller on Amazon. She is also the author of the law handbook Planning Applications and Appeals. Raised in Tennessee and Virginia, she currently lives in London with her family.

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