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Monday, July 28, 2014

All for a Sister by Allison Pittman

Read the first chapter excerpt here

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.

All For a Sister by Allison Pittman is her third novel set during the Roaring Twenties and connected in some way to the enigmatic Aimee Semple McPherson. While any of these novels can be read on their own, those who have read All for a Song will notice the familiar suave face of Roland in this novel. The formatting of this novel was a little odd, and it took me a few chapters to get into the story as a result. The chapters bounced between Dana's point of view as she is reintroduced into society and into Celeste's life at Ms. DuFrane's request, Dana's point of view as a young girl as she experienced different aspects of jail (but presented from the perspective of a movie script), Mrs. DuFrane's written confession of her wrongs, and Celeste perspective as a young girl. While it was a lot at first, as I learned more about the past and the present situations, the formatting worked well to tie the two time periods together. The author began to use this formatting to tie certain characters and situations into the story as a whole. The plot line was interesting and suspenseful. The way the story was orchestrated the reader was left in the dark about certain details and situations as much as Dana and Celeste were, though I was able to guess on a few things based on hints in Ms. DuFrane's confession. However, the plot also got so convoluted at points during the novel that I completely lost track of what actually happened the night Mary died and how the father was involved in the story. There were a few other points in the story that were also left confusing and not fully resolved.

While there was a lot of mystery and intrigue, there was also a great amount of greed, selfishness, sadness, and sin that was shown in this story. Mr. DuFrane's actions were never truly condemned as sin while Ms. DuFrane's actions were. I did not like this discrepancy as both sinned and needed to confess and to ask forgiveness, especially as both sets of actions negatively affected many people. However, I did appreciate that Ms. DuFrane experienced remorse at the end, though I did not completely agree with McPherson's (and therefore possibly the author's) take on giving/receiving forgiveness. The characters in this book were interesting and intriguing, but I was not able to identify with some of them. I appreciated Dana's strength of character and her perseverance during the injustice served her. I also enjoyed experiencing the Roaring Twenties and California through her eyes after she had missed out on decades of society. I also really liked the producer/director that took her under his wing and showed such care for her. I was not as big a fan of grown up Celeste. She just seemed spoiled, but near the end of the story she did show a more adult side to her. I felt sympathy for the Celeste of years earlier who struggled to cope with fame hungry father, an almost insane mother, and the ghosts of her siblings' memories. Overall, I found All for a Sister to be a compelling read that really delved into the evils that exist in the heart and in society as a whole, even if it was not my favorite of the "All For" novels by Allison Pittman.

I think my favorite was probably All for a Story, but I would still recommend this novel to those looking for a thoughtful novel about the Roaring Twenties.

I received this novel from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

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