Book Eight: For Lucinda Riley
In 2013, author Lucinda Riley embarked on an ambitious quest: to write seven interwoven novels about seven adopted sisters. Each book would feature one sister, and each sister would set off on her own quest to learn about her heritage. All seven books would include dual timelines and multiple settings from around the world, and there also would be “a hidden plot running throughout like a delicate thread,” as Riley explained it. Moreover, the sisters would be allegorical figures based on the legends of the Seven Sisters of the Pleiades star cluster.
Despite the complexity of this plan, Riley accomplished her mission as she originally conceived it, and every book is truly a pleasure to read. Riley’s “Seven Sisters” series quickly gained a dedicated following as readers from around the globe responded with enthusiasm to the engaging characters and poignant stories of love and loss. From the start, I enjoyed reading each individual book, intrigued by the imperfect individuals therein. With each new book, my admiration only increased for the overall design of the series, including how Riley created a unified timeline for the separate sisters.
In early 2021, Riley surprised many readers when she announced that an eighth and final book had become a necessity for the series, even though she had completed the planned seven novels about seven sisters. As Riley explained in her Author’s Letter in March 2021, there “just wasn’t the space to tell the ‘secret story’ properly” in Book Seven, so the underlying mysteries needed to be addressed in full in one final book. Sadly, Riley died in June 2021, only 2 months after telling her readers that she couldn’t wait to write the rest of the story. After Riley’s death, her eldest son, author Harry Whittaker, revealed that he previously had promised her, when Riley received a 2017 cancer diagnosis, that he would complete the series, if the “unthinkable” happened — “And unthinkable it was.”
Riley dedicated Book Seven with these two words, “For Harry.” It’s a simple dedication, yet one made even more moving by Harry Whittaker’s subsequent dedication to writing the book that finishes the series for Riley – and his ability to write it so well, in the end.
Published in May 2023, Book Eight is an epic conclusion and thoroughly enjoyable reading. I was riveted by the full story of Atlas, and I found it quite satisfying when the pieces finally clicked into place, for the underlying plotline of the series. Poignantly, Whittaker dedicated Book Eight twice, and beautifully, with these lines:
“Lucinda dedicates this novel to her readers across the globe.”
“I dedicate it to my mother, Lucinda, who inspired me in every way--H.W.”
With Book Eight available, there is no better time than now to dedicate yourself to reading the “Seven Sisters” series.
The “Seven Sisters” series
- Book One: "The Seven Sisters” (2014) - The story of Maia, a translator, who traces her heritage to Brazil
- Book Two: "The Storm Sister" (2015) - The story of Ally, an Olympic yachting hopeful, who traces her heritage to Norway
- Book Three: "The Shadow Sister” (2016) - The story of Star, a bookseller, who traces her heritage to England
- Book Four: "The Pearl Sister” (2017) - The story of CeCe, an artist, who travels to Thailand and then traces her heritage to Australia
- Book Five: "The Moon Sister” (2018) - The story of Tiggy, a wildlife consultant in Scotland, who traces her heritage to Spain
- Book Six: "The Sun Sister” (2019) - The story of Electra, a famous model, who traces her heritage to America and Kenya
- Book Seven: "The Missing Sister” (2021)- The story of Merope, or Mary McDougal, who begins to trace her heritage to Ireland
- Book Eight: "Atlas: The Story of Pa Salt” (2023) - The story of Atlas, who adopted the first six sisters and sought to find the seventh
One final note: if you read any (or all) of the “Seven Sisters” books, it’s worth your time to visit the author’s webpage (now maintained by her family). Here you will find evidence of Riley’s dedication to her craft, and to her readers. You also will be able to see the dedication her readers have shown to this much loved series.