I will always remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard that my father had died.
I was sitting in the pretty garden of my old school friend’s townhouse in London, a copy of The Penelopiad open but unread in my lap, enjoying the June sun while Jenny collected her little boy from kindergarten.
I felt calm and I appreciated what a good idea it had been to get away. When my cell phone rang and I glanced at the screen and saw it was Marina, I was studying the burgeoning clematis unfolding its fragile pink buds, giving birth to a riot of color, encouraged by its sunny midwife.
“Hello, Ma, how are you?” I said, hoping she could hear the sun’s warmth in my voice.
“Maia, I . . .”
Marina paused, and in that instant I knew something was dreadfully wrong. “What is it?”
“Maia, there’s no other way to tell you this, but your father had a heart attack here at home yesterday afternoon, and in the early hours of this morning, he . . . passed away.”
I remained silent as a million different and ridiculous thoughts passed through my mind. The first one being that Marina, for some unknown reason, had decided to play some form of a tasteless joke on me.
“You’re the first of the sisters I’ve told, Maia, as you’re the eldest. And I wanted to ask you whether you would prefer to tell the rest of your sisters yourself, or leave it to me.”
“I . . .”
Still no words would form coherently on my lips, as I began to realize that Marina, dear, beloved Marina, the woman who had been the closest thing to a mother I’d ever known, would never tell me this if it weren’t true. So it had to be. And at that moment, my entire world shifted on its axis.
“Maia, please, tell me you’re all right. This really is the most dreadful phone call I’ve ever had to make, but what else could I do? God only knows how the other girls are going to take it.”
It was then that I heard the suffering in her voice and understood she’d needed to tell me as much for her own sake as mine. So I switched into my normal comfort zone, which was to comfort others.
“Of course I’ll tell my sisters if you’d prefer, Ma, although I’m not positive where they all are. Isn’t Ally away training for a regatta?”
And, as we continued to discuss where each of my younger sisters was, as though we needed to get them together for a birthday party rather than to mourn the death of our father, the entire conversation took on a sense of the surreal.
“When should we plan on having the funeral, do you think? What with Electra being in Los Angeles and Ally somewhere on the high seas, surely we can’t think about it until next week at the earliest,” I said.
“Well”—I heard the hesitation in Marina’s voice—“perhaps the best thing is for you and I to discuss it when you arrive back home. There really is no rush now, Maia, so if you’d prefer to continue the last couple of days of your holiday in London, that would be fine. There’s nothing more to be done for him here . . .” Her voice trailed off miserably.
“Ma, of course I’ll be on the next flight that I can get to Geneva! I’ll call the airline immediately and let you know what timThe first book in a major new series from #1 internationally bestselling author Lucinda Riley, author of The Midnight Rose—hailed as “an extraordinary story [and] a complex, deeply engaging tale filled with fascinating characters” (Library Journal).
Maia D’Apliese and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home, “Atlantis”—a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva—having been told that their beloved father, who adopted them all as babies, has died. Each sister is handed a tantalizing clue to her true heritage—a clue that takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Once there, she begins to put together the pieces of her story.
Eighty years earlier in the Rio of the 1920s, Izabela Bonifacio’s father has aspirations for his daughter to marry into the aristocracy. Meanwhile, architect Heitor da Silva Costa is devising plans for an enormous statue, to be called Christ the Redeemer, and will soon travel to Paris to find the right sculptor to complete his vision. Izabela—passionate and longing to see the world—convinces her father to allow her to accompany him and his family to Europe before she is married. There, at Paul Landowski’s studio and in the heady, vibrant cafes of Montparnasse, she meets ambitious young sculptor Laurent Brouilly, and knows at once that her life will never be the same again.
In this sweeping, epic tale of love and loss—the first in a unique, spellbinding new series—Lucinda Riley showcases her storytelling talents like never before.