Tuesday, November 29

Book Review: The Seamstress

Title: The Seamstress

Author: Frances De Pontes Peebles

Pages: 641

Summary: As seamstresses, the young sisters Emilia and Luzia dos Santos know how to cut, mend, an conceal - useful skills in the lawless backcountry of Brazil, where ruthless land barons feud with bands of outlaw cangaceiros, trapping innocent residents in the crossfire. Emilia, a native romantic, dreams at falling in love with a gentleman and escaping to a big city. Quick-tempered Luzia also longs for escape, finding it in her craft and secret prayers to the saints she believes once saved her life. But when Luzia is abducted by cangaceiros led by the infamous Hawk and Emilia stumbles into a marriage with the son of a wealthy and politically powerful doctor, the sisters' quiet lives diverge in ways they never would have imagined.

My Rating: 9.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This will likely be on one of the many books on my favourite books of the year, it was a fantastic book, filled with complex characters and cultural taste of Brazil. it was a book well worth reading.

The book has a slow plot, that takes care with the characters and the influences that shaped them. Which I really enjoyed, sometimes a slower moving plot causes me to lose interest, in this case it worked fantastically, as I felt I really knew all the characters by the end of the book. All the characters, even some of the more minor ones, were complex and had interesting stories, and I loved how the author compared the two sisters, who lead two different lives - and how they changed over time. Both had some fantastic growth from the first page to the last - they really made the book. It's hard to say which sister I enjoyed more, both had interesting stories, both had some interesting development, both overcame unexpected odds - but if I had to choose, Luzia was my favourite sister, and her story was more interesting than Emilia.

I also enjoyed the cultural dive into Brazil during the early 1900's. It was interesting to read about the cultural differences between the small communities versus the developed cities. The look at fashion trends and how they've changed, the look on family and relationships, the author managed to wrap all this into the story, without having to force anything into the book, as the reader you're able to get the feel of the Brazilian culture, without having to sacrifice characterization or plot to do so. I also loved how it was written - the author focused on each sister in sections, written in third person, but separated the book in to chapters and subchapters having them devoted to each sisters, so the reader is able to get a good grasp on their storyline.

I did find a few scenes a little violent, or uncomfortable, it's not excessive, but there aware a few violent acts in there that I'd rather not have read, but those are few - which is expected in a book about bandits wandering around in the unknown. But even this worked in a way, because as the reader, you were able to experience the true grit of the characters lives - both the good and the bad.

Overall it was a fantastic book, which I highly recommend.

Would I recommend it to read: As I've said above and as you probably already guessed, yes.

What to read next: Shanghai Girls (both are good books on sisterly relationships).

Challenges: 11 in 11, Book Bloggers Bucket List, Chunkster Reading ChallengeFall into Reading, Global Reading Challenge


  1. I have been wanting to read this one for awhile now, and your review just makes me more adamant that I need to add this book to the top of my list. I am not really all that troubled by violence in the books that I read, so I probably wouldn't have a problem with that aspect. Great review, Jules! I need to check this one out!

  2. I've picked this up so many times because the cover image is so striking; now I have a reason beyond that to pick it up! Glad to hear it was sooo enjoyable.

  3. Zibilee - I was the same way, it is well worth picking up right away. The violence isn't to bad, and there's build up to it so you are able to skim it over if you wish - I really hope you get a chance to read it soon.

    Buried in Print - I love the cover image, it was the reason why I first found out about the book - the content made it that much better.