Geneva, Norway, Liepzig, Greece: The Storm Sister – Lucinda Riley


Why a booktrail?

1875, 2007: The epic second tale about the second of the Seven Sisters taking you from the shores of Lake Geneva, via Greece, Bergen/Oslo and Liepzig


Ally D’Aplièse is about to compete in one of the world’s most exhilarating but dangerous yacht races, when she learns that her adoptive father has died suddenly. When she returns home to Geneva, she finds that along with her sisters, Pa Salt as he was affectionately known has left each of them a clue as to their true heritage.

Deciding to follow the trail and find out who she really is and where she comes from, she leaves behind her sailing life and her new love affair to venture out into the most thrilling yet nerve-wracking journey of her life. A journey that will take her to the mountains of Norway and right to the heart of a famous composer Grieg and  a  little unknown singer who changed the world.

But there are some questions left unanswered….for now.

Place and setting


The Aegean Sea

Greece (Naxos, Mykonos, Macheres, the Aegean sea) chora

In the middle of the idyllic and peaceful Aegean sea, sailing from Naxos to Mykonos and everywhere in between, Ally is about to compete in the most gruelling and famous Yacht race in the world. She has fought to get where she is, in what is largely a male dominated sport. Falling in love with the skipper wasn’t in her plans but soon there’s is a perfect romance and the frantic and exciting world of yacht racing, the waves slapping up against the boat, the crew banter and the sheer hard work involved in such a sport are evoked with vibrancy – the sweat and toil, danger of it all – “ All sailors are in a dangerous game and one just never knows” says Theo.

Before stormy waters change her life for ever.

Atlantis, Geneva

The magical and somewhat majestic ‘ posh orphanage’ as the sisters call their home. A place on the shores of Lake Geneva where Pa Salt, an enigmatic millionaire took six girls and adopted them. What happened to the seventh remains a mystery. Ally returns her to sadness, finds the clues her father has left and reunites breifly with the sisters before heading off on her search for her own destiny – with a book translated from the Norwegian which her father intended her to read.


Engerbret cafe Jens and Anna meet here The Ibsen museum Essential to both Anna and Ally’s stories OSlo - St Olavs Gate Anna first lives here when she moves to Oslo to sing Sankt Olavs Gate 13A 0165 Oslo, Norway 59.918079, 10.740765 The National theatre, Johanne Dybwads plass 1 Where Anna sings...
Engerbret cafe
Jens and Anna meet here
The Ibsen museum
Essential to both Anna and Ally’s stories
Oslo – St Olavs Gate
Anna first lives here when she moves to Oslo to sing
The National theatre, Johanne Dybwads plass 1
Where Anna sings…

Somewhere in the Telemarkt area of Norway, on the banks of a mountain, a young girl Anna gets the chance to sing in a prestigious musical performance in Christiana, (Oslo) Her journey there is unusual for a country girl used to herding cows all day but soon she is singing on the world stage and her story of her life and career unfold. Her rural life becomes one of fame and fortune and events soon turn into something much more dramatic.

Life in Bergen

Life here with the music scene and on the search into Grieg and his musical legacy is a joy to discover. As Ally discovers more, she revisits the places where those of years earlier once lived and worked. From the Grieg museum where the famous man once lived to the wonderful Frokehuset with its frog symbology, this is where the musical world comes to life and the stories of past and present truly merge as a black and white photo is placed on top of layers of colour.

Troldhaugen – Grieg’s home

Edvard Grieg House, Troldhaugvegen 65, Paradis, Norway


The story ends up in Liepzig where to tell you how would give too much away. The musical trail takes us here to a world of opera, classical music and theatre. The story of a star with his own former glory and link to the Grieg legacy who may just have the last little thread to unravel Ally’s past and reveal the truth behind her legacy.

Both Anna and Ally’s stories are woven together bringing their journeys to the ultimate destination that unites them in one destiny – that which Pa Salt left in his legacy.




There’s always one author I just know I’m going to enjoy and after having read the first in the Seven Sisters series which I loved, I was intrigued to find out what would happen to the second sister Ally.

A long book yes but not long enough really. It’s an epic read in every sense of the word from the locations around the world to the journey it takes you on musically and physically. The tales of a famous composer and one of the seven sisters is magically woven together and it’s  a breathtaking journey.

I loved the idea of Ally travelling back to a place her father had left her clues about and as she read the book he had left her, then travelled to the place we’re taken back in time to when those events happened and from Anna and Jens to Pip and Grieg, the journey was fascinating and I loved getting to know each and every one of these people and how their stories linked together and across time.

Lucinda paints and writes music with her words for there is a lot of musical content in the book  – the passion of the behind the scenes preparation, the hard work involved and that tingle you feel when a solo voice emanates from the stage – every emotion, chill on the back of your neck and musical note in your ear is vividly evoked and more.

What a read – take your time that’s my advice and savour this journey. The amount of detail, research and twists and turns makes for an exhilarating journey with many shocks along the way. The writing is like the music it describes – uplifting, flowing along with a dramatic crescendo leaving you applauding loudly and wanting more.

Austria, England, Switzerland – Jakob’s Colours – Lindsay Hawdon


Why a booktrail?

Inspired by the real life but little known period of history – the story of Europe’s gypsies during WW2

Story in a nutshell

Austria, 1944. Jakob, a gypsy boy – half Roma, half Yenish – runs and runs as he has been told to do. With bloody feet, a stone in one hand and a box in the other, he runs towards hope for there is nowhere else to go.

Ever since he was born, his parents have taught him how to read the land and the sky and to see the colours of everything around him, the colour of the trees and the flowers but also the colour of good in the midst of so much evil.

“Run if you can, always if you can

For to run is to live”

From one world war to another, this is the story of those forgotten by history – the Romany gypsies and their stories at the hands of the Nazis

Place and setting

Locations – Austria, England and Switzerland (with places in Poland significant to the history)

 GERMANY - Buchenwald Memorial, 99427 Weimar, Germany The first genocide of the holocaust where Romani children were taken and killed AUSTRIA - Lackenbach an internment camp for gypsies AUSTRIA - Burgenland Officials in Burgenland in 1933 call for the withdrawal of all civil rights of Roma POLAND - Lodz Gypsy camp set up in the jewish ghetto of Lodz in Poland POLAND  - Auschwitz Where many Roma ended up. When the camp was liberated only one was found alive.

GERMANY – Buchenwald Memorial, 99427 Weimar, Germany
The first genocide of the holocaust where Romani children were taken and killed
AUSTRIA – Lackenbach
an internment camp for gypsies
AUSTRIA – Burgenland
Officials in Burgenland in 1933 call for the withdrawal of all civil rights of Roma
Gypsy camp set up in the jewish ghetto of Lodz in Poland
POLAND – Auschwitz
Where many Roma ended up. When the camp was liberated only one was found alive.

The novel spans a period from the 1920s to the 1940s and is based mostly in war torn Austria and Vienna in particular. But the story of one family is traced back to their roots back to Switzerland and England.

The horror of the situation slowly unfolds although the Background section at the back of the book puts the historical context into stark contrast –

“The Porrajmos is the Gypsy Holocaust. It means the Devouring”


The unfolding horrors of the Nazi genocide on the Romany population takes place here. The towns of Chelmo, Lackenbach and Lodz tell of their horrors of their place in history.

But Jakob’s story transcends this to explain how the real horrors were not revealed or known to the general population until it was too late. Jacob’s world is a vague one but a carefully crafted one to minimise the hurt for a young child and his parents’ wish to protect him.

At a days journey from the German border-

They move across a field, keeping to the shadows and a dip in the eastern hedges. They stumble down a slope to the broken-tiled roof of a small, low farmhouse, the land long since taken from it on a day when soldiers had arrived and claimed it as their own”


The origins of the word Yenish ( a word of Swiss origin meaning traveller) and the organisations set up to support children from these communities  – Pro Juventute – are also referred to in this story to show background and historical accuracy. In a Swiss hospital, Lor meets Yavy, the gypsy who becomes Jakob’s father.

England, Somerset Valley

Lor, Jacob’s mother is from here and we go back to England of 1929 in order to see how she and Yavy meet.

This is not a landscape that you can image colour to exist in but Jacob’s father, despite the horror and the brutality of their reality has always painted a picture of the world full of colour.

“Don’t be afraid Jacob, his father has told him. See the colours, my boy”

Jakob’s journey in search of survival is a long and difficult journey

Run if you can. Always if you can

For to run is to live

This is  a story of a group of people who were caught up in war and in a situation they had trouble in understanding. They had no means of escape and so to tell Jacob to run has an overriding sense of heartbreaking finality to it. for he is running for his life away from the Nazi genocide slaughtering his people.

Brutal yet poetic. A glimpse into a past not widely documented in literature.

Bookish musings

The author is a well known travel writer who herself has lived  and worked in several countries far and wide writing about them for her newspaper columns – An Englishwoman Abroad for the Independent or ‘Have Kids Will travel’ for the Sunday Times. I think this is how you can really appreciate the language she uses and the ways she paints a picture quite literally with her words. Apt in the circumstances.

A dream like quality pervades this book and the character of Jacob is one which was both poignant to read about and intriguing to learn of his world of colour.

A fascinating journey told in five parts in three voices – Jacobs story, his father and his mother and all coming together as one. The chapters ‘ Before’  Long Before’  and ‘This day’ helped to shape the novel and the experiences of what was to come.

A real think about read and one I’m pleased to have the honour to have read. And the shame I knew so little about the historical background. The stunning cover says so much with its vibrancy and poignant meaning.

Moving and poignant despite the sad and tragic background. Humbling.

Book Advent – Day 8

Today was very exciting as I found out about a book and a country that I had forgotten I had read. And to revisit this was quite something. This country I am now in is not one that I have visited much via literature and only once in real life so as I ropped the paper off the book, I smiled to myself and got ready to write about it and hopefully introduce this place and time to fellow booktrailers –



Set in 1920s Austria




Story in a nutshell – A poor, young postal worker, Christine gets the chance of a lifetime to have a very brief, but wonderfully transforming vacation from her poverty-stricken life.


It’s a tragic version of the Cinderella story, as in  this version there is  no glass slipper and no Prince Charming. Christine is given the chance to taste the luxury of  a prince and all the trappings of a new life -but without getting her happy ending.


However, the novel is about so much more than this – it is the work of Stephan Zweig – not known in the English speaking world – but who is one of the best writers about the old Vienna of the 1920s. His own history – leaving Austria and finding refuge in England after Hitler comes to power only to commit suicide in 1942 alongside his wife due to the fear of a German victory in the war. Interestingly the tile in German is ‘The intoxication of transformation’ which I think gives a more honest description of what this book is actually about.


How would you feel if in the depths of despair, you were given the chance to lead your dream life only to have the bubble burst and your old life return?

But that’s the point – it wouldn’t come back exactly as it was – things would have changed – you have tasted what else exists out there. And that brings its own set of problems….


Read this for finding out Christine’s story and thinking what you would do in her circumstances.


But mainly read it for an introduction into life in Austria during the 1920s and a period of transformation and upheaval that Zweig captivates so well.