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The Seamstress by Frances de Pontes Peebles

The Seamstress (2008)

by Frances de Pontes Peebles

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4052937,628 (4.07)74



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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
This book has everything I love: a history lesson, strong characters, and a great story! ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
I was inspired to read this novel after seeing several other good reviews for it on LT. I really enjoyed the setting of Brazil in the 1920-30s. I also enjoy a good book about sisters. How two people brought up in the same home and by the same parenting figures can be so different is very interesting to me.

Emilia strives to escape the countryside. She is desperate to become a fashionable lady with her own house to run in the city. Luzia Justs wants to be seen for who she really is, more than the girl with the crippled arm. Both these girls are brave in their own way and have their own struggles to face,

I got engrossed in the book very early on, finding it difficult to put down. The middle became a bit harder as the political situation had to be explained within the story. The final quarter of the book was again, very good. ( )
  Roro8 | Jan 14, 2016 |
This book was a surprise to me. It's a large book with a pretty, but generic cover. I knew it was worthy and historical and set somewhere in South America; all of which were fine things, but not things that called me to read it. So the amount of enjoyment I got from this book, the sheer fun I had reading it, was unexpected. I didn't know beforehand that Frances de Pontes Peebles had written a rip-roaring adventure story that ran the gamut from hardscrabble survival in the Brazilian hinterlands to coastal high society to political turmoil to life in an outlaw gang, evading the law and enacting vengeance, all set during the last few years of the 1920s to the first few years of the 1930s.

The Seamstress follows two very different sisters, being raised by their aunt, who teaches them a trade and manners. Emilia longs for a more elegant life, the one depicted in the magazines handed down to her by her employer. She refuses to look at the stolid farmer's sons who would court her, setting her sights on the refined sewing teacher from the capitol. Luiza, tall and with an arm crippled in a fall from a mango tree, has no use for the things Emilia loves. She likes her life in her aunt's house, although she is prickly and rebellious. Circumstances sent one sister to live in luxury in Recife, the provincial capital, while the other joins a band of bandits, led by The Hawk, a feared but canny outlaw. Brazil is changing rapidly, and those changes challenge each woman. Both Luiza and Emilia are complex, interesting and believable characters. They are both strong women, although their strengths fall in different areas.

The book begins slowly, but it wasn't long before I was hauling it around with me to read a few more pages whenever I could. Generally, I only travel with an ereader or a light paperback, but I was willing to lug The Seamstress around with me until, all too quickly, it came to an end. ( )
2 vote RidgewayGirl | Oct 26, 2014 |
In the late 1920s and 1930s, Brazil was in the midst of upheaval. There were "Colonels" who as land barons ruled their own territories because there was no true central government. There were cangaceiros who were like bandits living in the hardships of the outlands.

The Seamstress is the story of two sisters, Emilia and Luzia who have been taught how to sew by their aunt who took them in when their parents died. Luzia has a deformed arm from a childhood accident and is not liked in the town. Emilia wants to go to a big city, marry well,and be fashionable. When a band of cangacerios comes to the town, Luzia, attracted to the leader of the group, decides to leave with them. Emilia soon chooses to marry and moves to the city of Recife.

The book alternates between the two sisters and the story of their lives told from each different point of view. I found I had a lot of sympathy for each of them and they were real enough that I was upset that each didn't know what the other was going through and thinking. There was also a lot of information on the politics going on in Brazil at the time. For a long book (600+ pages), it kept my interest and I wished real life didn't interfere so I could read it faster.

I think on some level, I expect all books to end well. The killer gets caught, the boy gets the girl, ... You know what I mean. Even though I expected that Luzia would die, I thought she would at least see Emilia and her son before she did. That she should die without either of them know the misunderstandings of things that they interpreted wrong through the years was very sad for me.

The fact that it bothered me that much shows me how well this book was written. Probably one of the best books I've read this year.

ETA: I realized after that maybe I shouldn't have said that the fact it bothered me showed it was well written. Because that's not always true. What I meant was the writing had me invested in what happened. ( )
1 vote dudes22 | Oct 19, 2014 |
This was my favorite book I have read in quite a while and it is really good literature. I have been to Brazil several time, even to Recife. But I learned so much about Brazilian political history that I knew nothing of , of the back country ,etc. It wove so many themes together in a complex artful way. hope to see more from this author. ( )
  Mgo | Jun 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
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...rising toward a saint

still honored in these parts,

the paper chambers flush and fill with light

that comes and goes, like hearts...

receding, dwindling, solemnly

and steadily forsaking us,

or, in the downdraft from a peak,

suddenly turning dangerous...

- Elizabeth Bishop, "The Armadillo"
to the women - living and dead - of my family, all of them ladies and guerreiras

And to James, who always believed
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Emíla awoke alone.
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Book description
The lives of two young sisters, Emilia and Luzia dos Santos, seamstresses in early nineteenth-century Brazil, diverge sharply after Luzia is kidnapped by an outlaw band of cangaceiros led by the infamous Hawk, and Emilia marries into a wealthy, politically connected family, and while Luzia becomes notorious for throwing her lot in with her captors, and Emilia learns to navigate high society, they remain loyal to the point of risking their lives for each other.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060738871, Hardcover)

Emilia and Luzia dos Santos, orphaned when they are children, grow up under the protection of their aunt in the hillside village of Taquaritinga, Brazil. Raised as seamstresses, the sisters learn how to cut, how to mend and how to conceal. Emilia treasures pretty, girlish things and longs to escape from the confines of the little town. Captivated by the romances she reads in magazines, she dreams of finding love in the bustle and glamour of the city. Luzia, scarred by a childhood accident that has left her with a deformed arm, knows that for her, real life can not be romantically embroidered, and so she finds solace in her sewing and in the secret prayers to the saints she believes once saved her life. But when Luzia is abducted by a gang of rebel bandits, the sisters' lives diverge in ways they never imagined. Whilst Luzia learns to survive in the unforgiving Brazilian outland, discovering love in the most unexpected of places, Emilia meets the son of a wealthy doctor who seems to offer her everything she has always desired. But for the innocent dreamer, the excitement of her escape to the city is soon overshadowed by disillusion and loneliness. As she learns how to navigate the treacherous waters of Brazilian high society, the bandits' campaign against the land-owning 'Colonels' intensifies, and when a price is placed upon Luzia's head Emilia realises she must risk everything in order to save her sister.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:36 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In 1930's Brazil, a vigilante gang invades the home of two seamstresses, kidnapping one of them.

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