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The Sisterhood [Kindle Edition]

Helen Bryan
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,955 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews


"There is much to admire in Helen Bryan's second novel … the research that Bryan has invested in this novel shows, making the historical parts of the book a fascinating look at 16th-century Spain and early South America. Those who love romance and like to explore alternatives to the overtly male-centered version of Christianity would like this book." —Historical Novels Review

"The author kept me on the edge of my seat ... I cannot wait to read more." —Night Owl Reviews, 4 ½ stars Top Pick

About the Author

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 resides in London with her family.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2346 KB
  • Print Length: 420 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1611099285
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (April 30, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009W3OFDE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #645 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
377 of 388 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
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.
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238 of 251 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Sisterhood April 4, 2013
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Sisterhood is about a young woman in the present named Menina who knows nothing about a mysterious chronicle and medal that she inherited from a nun when her parents adopted her. Her search leads her across countries and centuries, spanning the globe and time as she learns the truth about her mysterious possessions and her own identity and reveals a secret that will impact the world. Along the way she experiences and learns about love, betrayal, loyalty, forgiveness, redemption and faith.

While the story was very interesting and in certain parts reminded me a little bit of The Da Vinci Code, the writing style in areas seems a bit unpolished. I found the beginning of the book difficult to get into- I didn't think it was a smooth transition into the real `meat' of the story. There are a lot of little side stories that make up the bulk of the book that can get a bit confusing, taking place in different times and locations. I found the ending rather abrupt and disappointing - after the big `secret' is discovered, they just wrap up the story neatly at the end as if it's not that big of a deal. Too many parts of the story are just difficult to swallow and seem incomplete. I think this could have been written better - made a bit longer and more interesting.
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145 of 153 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
... at least I did. And then I was sad that the story didn't go on.

In 1983, after the worst hurricane that South America has seen in years, a boat is found washed up on shore. Inside is a sunburned toddler, naked except for a small medallion on a chain wound around her neck. The medallion is of a swallow, the symbol of a nearby convent and orphanage. She is brought to the decrepit orphanage that lacks everything but love for the children in their care, The child's story of survival is so miraculous that reporters take her photograph for the worldwide press, but then life goes back to normal.

Until an American couple sees the photo and makes the trek to the way-way-way off the beaten path convent to adopt the child in the photo. They name her Menina, which means lady-in-waiting. Little Menina Walker heads back to the United States with her medallion and an old book embossed with the same swallow as on the medallion, a gift from the convent, with the instructions that she read the book at some time after she turns sixteen. The Walkers head home with their new daughter who is American in every way but her appearance, which is Hispanic to the core.

Menina's story winds back and forth with the story of the Spanish Inquisition and how it affects the nuns contained in the Chronicle, part of the book that she had been given by the nuns when she was adopted. Little does she know that the Chronicle and rest of the book will do more than change her life: it will change the way the world views itself and its Creator forever.

That's enough from me -- I don't want to give away any of the story and spoil it. I did have some complaints - that some of the sub-threads never amounted to anything, and one big huge complaint that is a major spoiler.
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80 of 89 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving tale of female friendship March 11, 2013
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
When she turned sixteen, Menina Walker, heroine of "The Sisterhood," was given a holy medal and a "Chronicle" written in Latin that the nuns at the South American convent presented to her adoptive parents when they arrived to take her home as a little girl. Three years later, while working on her scholarship thesis on artist Tristan Mendoza (who may have personal connections to her legacy) and eager to escape her abusive ex-fiance, Menina travels to Spain where she is derailed by poor weather and perhaps fate. Seeking refuge in a convent, badly in need of repair, Menina decides to evaluate the artwork donated over centuries and see if any is valuable. Through her research, she learns that the convent was once the refuge of five young girls: Esperanza, Marisol, Sanchia, Pia and Isabella, each with an unique story during the time of the Spanish Inquisition (1550's) that will provide Menina with the answers she seeks.

The novel offers a history lesson as well, with the information that nuns not only helped shelter girls in trouble, but served as patrons of the arts, and also influenced the local political scene. It also examines the question: What would happen if someone unearthed evidence that the Virgin Mary wasn't exactly a virgin? The answer is what you'd expect, but it's still an interesting twist. Men, as a whole, do not come off particularly well here, religious and otherwise; with a rape, incest, murder, kidnapping, etc. every fifty pages or so, the drama sometimes becomes melodrama. By contrast, the female characters were appealing, and I wished there were more quiet moments in the novel where I could get to know them better. Also Menina and Becky seemed a little old-fashioned for college students in Y2K, but maybe it's a Southern thing. Overall, I enjoyed the book and its focus on female bonding.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars what a great book!!!
I couldn't put it down! When I retired I told myself that if I wanted to I could start every morning with a short read and then get busy with the duties of the day. Read more
Published 6 hours ago by Carol E. Tupper
4.0 out of 5 stars Very religious writing
Sounds like the author is from Jewish faith. Kind of hard on the Catholics but I've had many questions myself about things Catholic. Never got answered from catechism. Read more
Published 6 hours ago by Kathy
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and interesting
I'm very pleased with the story, writing style, and content. Great, enlightening read. I recommend this for those who love historical fiction from a woman's point of view.
Published 15 hours ago by jenlynlacan
5.0 out of 5 stars Never a dull moment
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Interesting history, intrigue, romance, and true tolerance. If only there was more "making peace". It speaks of hope .
Published 1 day ago by Cathy Brinkley
4.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected surprise
I enjoyed this book a great deal. I particularly liked traveling back and forth through time. I am left with a peaceful heart and a curiosity.
Published 1 day ago by Christina Craig
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding novel!
I couldn't put this book down! An anthology of history &
intrigue through centuries. A weaving novel of generations centered
around a nunnery in Spain.
Published 1 day ago by Mary J. Banta
4.0 out of 5 stars When the threads come together...
A good story is like a tapestry. When all the threads come together it makes a beautiful tale. If you're a sucker for a good ending. This one's for you.
Published 2 days ago by Britoni Garson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
This book was the perfect mix of history, fiction, and suspense! I hope she writes more books. War Brides and this book were very enthralling.
Published 3 days ago by Mary A. Lynch
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling
A mosaic of stories of women's lives. Rich in detail, imagination and heart. A wonderfully satisfying, impossible to put down read!
Published 4 days ago by Susan A. Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
Loved the book! If you're looking for historical fiction or simply a good story that's ties past and future together here you go. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Mrs. Caves
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More About the Author

Helen Bryan was born in Virginia, grew up in Tennessee, graduated from Barnard College and lives in London where she qualified as a barrister and is a member of the Inner Temple. She left the Bar to write full time after publication of her first book, a layman's guide to the English planning system "Planning Applications and Appeals". Her second book was a biography, "Martha Washington First Lady of Liberty," awarded a Citation of Merit by the Colonial Dames of America. She is the author of two bestselling historical fiction novels. The first "War Brides" is a World War II saga inspired by family holidays in a small East Sussex village, the wartime reminiscences of older relatives and friends, and the true life stories of the brave young women who joined Churchill's Special Operations Executive. Her new novel "The Sisterhood" is a romantic/religious/mystery saga spanning 400 years, set in sixteenth century Spain and Spanish America and featuring an unlikely modern heroine.

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