Author: Helen Bryan
An emotional tight wire act both taut and tense, The Sisterhood offers powerful characterization, and sings its treble notes strongly and proudly into the readers’ ears.
As Helen Bryan pivots from 16th century Spain to the present, her tale of the Los Golondrinas Convent presents astute nuns who do not ascribe to the patriarchal partisanship of their Church but define their own religion with humanity. This is not so much a story – it is an event of a story, catapulting the reader into The Sisterhood’s magnificent arena.
As the 16th century Catholic Church rages with the horror of the Spanish Inquisition, the nuns of Los Golondrinas Convent continue to do their work. They take in any babies or children or any religion left at their door and nurture, love and raise them. They are Catholic nuns, but the define God’s Love differently than the patriarchal Church. They very carefully hide in a distant location under the reign of the Pope as they take in any women or child regardless of faith who needs refuge. The Convent’s founder stated the laws of the nuns in The Chronicle and in an ancient medal that the original foundress kept around her neck at all times. As the Inquisition starts to go into all convents to find “heathens” the nuns decide to do something so that five girls they have take in of questionable religion will not be taken by the Church to torture and kill. They send the girls away, and give one of the girls the Chronicle and medal so that the Inquisitors will not discover their secret.
In the present, the granddaughter of one of the five girls who was adopted in America, and who has no idea of her identity, calls off her wedding. Menina Walker decides to go to Spain where she takes with her the only things she was given at birth: the Chronicle and the medal. She has no idea what they mean, but she begins a search to find out in present day Spain. And she ends up staying in an old convent which now houses only two old nuns – the convent of Los Golondrinas.
A truly magnificent novel, The Sisterhood stuns with its prose, its humanity and its effortless interweavings of many stories within a story. Like Sophie’s Choice, it is a novel of endurance and women in a world defined by men. But more than that, The Sisterhood claims its place among those novels that claim us. If you don’t read it, you are the poorer for it. Helen Bryan completely mesmerizes her readers in this novel full of emotional depth and exquisitely laid plot.
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Review by Broad “A” – Ava
We received a copy of this title for our book review. All opinions are our own
The Sisterhood is available on Amazon.com and booksellers nationwide