by: Frances De Pontes Peebles
Published by: HarperCollins
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Reviewed by Michele E. Davis
With this book—I spent a week in Recife and Pernambuco, Brazil, in the 1930s. It was the best week of my life.
Emilia and Luzia dos Santos, while very different sisters with conflicting goals and lives, were raised by their Aunt Sofia. Luzia, also known as Victrola, because of a broken arm that doesn’t bend at the elbow, becomes a cangaceiro, a bandit in the scrub of Pernambuco. The scrub is wild, run by Colonels who control the lives of the common folk and determine who eats and who doesn’t. This is a hard existence that Luzia welcomes with relief and the love of her leader, the Hawk, who becomes her husband.
Emilia has a different idea of freedom and when Degas Coelho comes to Pernambuco to visit a law school friend, Felipe, she falls for him because he comes from money and most importantly from Recife, where she’s dreamed of living since she was a child. The city and the scrub are consistently juxtaposed, as alternating chapters give Luzia or Emilia a voice. Their voices live, breath, invigorate, motivate, create tears, laughter, and angst. The dos Santos women are larger than life, as are everyone that is a primary or secondary character.
Author Frances De Pontes Peebles is a younger version of Isabel Allende, and the depth of her writing is enormous and moving. No spoilers here, you’ll have to read The Seamstress yourself to know what the title means.
Fantastic book. I couldn’t put it down and am telling all my friends about it.
Armchair Interviews says: This is a must read for anyone that loves an excellent, well-written, multi-faceted book!
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