Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Review of "All for a Sister"

Rating: 5 Stars
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Review:  Allison Pittman's gift for creating plots with depth and intricacies is evident in "All for a Sister," her latest novel set in 1920s Hollywood.  There are numerous layers and several viewpoints to command readers' attention for the course of the story.  When I pick up a book by Pittman, I know that I am about to immerse myself in words that will take me on a unique journey that I will remember.  Pittman's plots are not different versions of the same story we've read before, they are unique and stirring.  Her latest three works are perfect examples.  "All for a Song," "All for a Story," and "All for a Sister" are all set in the intriguing 1920s with some of the same secondary characters, but they are each stand-alone with fresh main characters facing very different conflicts. "All for a Sister" proved my favorite novel of the three with all of its complexities and relationship dynamics.

This was a novel that required my complete attention and engagement.  The perspectives switch between Celeste DuFrane as child, Celeste as an adult, Dana Lundgren living in the present and retelling her past, and the written confession of Marguerite DuFrane reflecting on her life-altering decisions.  Each change in viewpoint is clearly delineated for the reader, making the shifts much easier to follow. The central mystery of the plot revolves around the death of the Dufrane's youngest daughter, an event that sent Dana to prison for 20 years.  It is clear from the beginning that there is much more to the alleged murder, and as we learn more about the past events, a tangle of sinfulness, hatred, and deceit emerge.  Pittman deftly weaves the silken web to show the disastrous trap that sin creates.  All hope is not lost, however, as faith and love gradually loosen the tangles.

I can always count on Allison Pittman to deliver a story with depth and pain with lives that are far from idyllic.  It is refreshing to depart from the happy love stories and delve into something with heartbreak. Dana's story in particular is full of woe - a childhood spent in a dark and often cruel prison, not unlike a setting Charles Dickens would create. While Dana reflects on her painful past, which is an integral part of the plot, it is balanced with the healing and promise of her future.  Despite her meekness, Dana outshined the beautiful and vivacious Celeste, and quickly found a home in my heart.  Celeste and Dana could not be more disparate women - one lived a life of comfort, the other a life of want.  Celeste adds a needed vibrancy to the plot and a different perspective of life in the Dufrane household.  I began guessing how the two women's lives would entwine before starting the novel.  Although the resolution was not a complete surprise, the journey was full of unexpected revelations and the beauty of hope.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Summary from Tyndale: In Hollywood during the Roaring Twenties, Celeste DuFrane has it all. Her father’s work with color movie film opens doors that lead to the stardom she’s always aspired to. But after losing her mother, she discovers that half the estate has been left to a woman accused of killing Celeste’s baby sister before Celeste was even born.

Dana Lundgren arrives on the steps of the DuFrane mansion having spent most of her life imprisoned for a crime that never happened. After accusing her of murder so many years ago, why did Marguerite DuFrane leave her a sizeable inheritance? 

As Celeste and Dana learn each other’s stories, they come up with more questions than answers. Then a surprising discovery begins to fill in the missing pieces: Marguerite DuFrane’s written confession, penned shortly before her death. Uncovering the treachery and deceit that changed the course of countless lives—most of all, their own—the two women find more than they ever dreamed of.

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