Frances De Pontes Peebles
Harper, Aug 2008, $25.95
In 1928 in lawless Northeast Brazil sisters Luzia and Emilia Dos Santos are both talented seamstresses who each dream of a Prince Charming to take them away from the “war” between the affluent “colonels” and the outlaw cangaceiros. However, Luzia knows her chances of marrying a handsome wealthy hunk is zero ever since she was scarred and her arm deformed in a childhood accident. Emilia is a beauty with many men wanting her; albeit all locals.
Two events change the sibling dynamics. Infamous bandit Hawk kidnaps Luzia and their Aunt Sofia dies. Emilia marries wealthy influential Degas Coehlo but remains dissatisfied while Luzia survives her ordeal and soon becomes one of the outlaw cangaceiros. As Luzia becomes notoriously famous as THE SEAMSTRESS, Emilia hides their connection fearing her scornful mother-in-law will toss her back to her rural dirt roots; but her father-in-law the criminologist is going after her sister.
This is a fascinating historical tale of two sisters whose paths diverge yet converge. Interestingly in the lap of luxury, Emilia is unhappy while living dangerously off the land Emilia is contented. Although overly written with too many passive descriptions, fans will appreciate this deep look at life in Brazil in the late 1920s and early 1930s.