Sunday, April 20, 2014

Review: The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier

The Lost Sisterhood
by Anne Fortier
Release Date: March 11th, 2014
2014 HarperCollins
Softcover Edition; 585 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-44341-246-9
Genre: Fiction
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

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.

My Thoughts
The Lost Sisterhood is one of those books to which I was drawn simply because of the word Troy.  I was curious as to the path in which this author would take in her recounting of the events of the downfall of Troy and the people involved.  I am not a huge fan of The Iliad so I was interested to see the scholarship that would be employed in her story and her take on the events that occurred so many years ago.  While I had mixed feelings about the book itself, I definitely liked the take on the downfall of Troy.

The Lost Sisterhood follows two intertwining stories; that of Diana in the modern day, a woman who is searching for proof of the existence of the Amazons, and that of Myrina, a woman who lived in the Bronze Age, thrust into circumstances not of her own making and about to rewrite history.  Personally, I preferred Diana's story as it seemed more real and less contrived than Diana's story as I will explain.

Diana is a young, and hopeful, scholar at Oxford, trying to earn her place and niche, but is constantly mocked and ridiculed for her choice of thesis topic, the Amazons.  Approached by a secretive man who invites her to Amsterdam to look at some archaeological pieces that have recently been unearthed, Diana is amazed to realize that these pieces contain writing that she recognizes, writing that her grandmother had used to write in her secret journals when she was a child.  Curious, she heads to Amsterdam, only to end up halfway across the world in another location and working for a group of whom she has heard and is afraid.  

While Diana is a rather headstrong character, and I rather liked her, there were moments when I did want to shake her and tell her to open her eyes to what was really happening around her.  For a scholar, she was often naive and missed a lot of rather important clues as to what was happening.  She was brave and adventurous, but she did behave like a child at times, sulking when she didn't get her way, and acting quite immaturely around Nick and her best friend Rebecca.  It must have taken a lot of patience not to throw her overboard at times, as I wanted to.  And she was pretty trusting too, considering she was on a race to find an Amazon Hoard of treasure, often seeming shocked at how easily she was traced and found.  In this day and age?  And you are shocked that someone can find you when you use your credit cards and your passport to book a flight and check into a hotel?  Really? Has this woman never read anything but scholarly books during her lifetime?

Unfortunately, the book did require a bit of suspension of belief in order to buy into the plot.  I did enjoy the plot, thought it was fun, liked the globe-trotting, liked the historical lessons about the various cultures during the Bronze Age, liked the various characters that were met along the way (Dr. Ozlem and his house come to mind), and definitely enjoyed the descriptions of many of the settings (the Palace of Knossos - fun stuff).  However, the fact that Diana managed to decipher an ancient inscription in five days, even having her grandmother's diary to help her, would have been impossible, and even I was going, Really?  That was just too much, even for me.  Although I let it go, it did fester, like a wasp that keeps buzzing around and won't go away until either you kill it or swat it.  

Myrina's story was my favourite.  It was a sad story, as she journeyed from her homeland to the home of the Moon Goddess, hoping to cure her younger sister of her blindness, only to be attacked by raiding Greeks bent on destruction.  Following her story from her home to Knossos, to Mycenae, to Ephesus, to Troy, was a lot of fun, and I really liked how the author put her own twist on a classic tale.  To be honest, I kind of like this tale better than the one Homer wrote, but I have also mentioned that I am not a fan of Homer in the first place.  This tale was less fantastical, more realistic, and I liked the burgeoning romance between Myrina and Paris; it was clean and simple.  I wasn't as crazy about the romance between Nick and Diana, as I thought that one did not parallel this ancient one in any way as Nick was a liar and a cheat, and I didn't really enjoy his character a whole lot.  But Myrina's, I did enjoy.  Knowing what is going to happen makes it bittersweet.  I even liked Myrina's interaction with Hercules.  Fun stuff!!  I just find it interesting how the author was able to interject those little things in this novel that gave the people the power to make legends out of the Amazons.  It is so easy to twist little words, said in fear, and make legends out of people fighting for their lives.

The Lost Sisterhood was an interesting twist on Homer's tale of the downfall of Troy and I liked it very much.  I wasn't as crazy about the modern side of the story, as it seemed to fall into the coincidence stream far too much for my liking, and I wasn't crazy about the romance or about Nick.  I did enjoy the descriptions of the various settings and really felt like I was there, and I definitely liked the historical tales and stories the author shared with the reader, but that is my kind of thing.  I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good adventure, and who is looking for a slightly different take on Homer's tale, but you really won't find anything too in-depth in this one.  Don't let the number of pages turn you off though, as I found it to be a quick read, and the author definitely has a way of writing that draws you into the story.  However, the plot didn't quite reach its potential and some of the characters did get a bit annoying, but if you're looking for a beach read, you might want to consider this one.


  1. A fine and concise review, Stephanie.

  2. The cover is beautiful. Sounds like a good read.

    Hope you are enjoying the A to Z Challenge. Here's my post for today on Memorable Characters.