Book Review: Daughter of Mine by Fiona Lowe

A family secret and the setting, Victoria's Western District, were the two things that drew me to this novel, in a genre I don't usually read. While the opening chapters didn’t pull me in immediately, I’m glad I persevered as this turned out to be a great family drama with a very satisfactory conclusion.

Synopsis

When your world falls apart the only person you can depend on is your sister. The three Chirnwell sisters are descended from the privileged squattocracy in Victoria's Western District -- but could a long-held secret threaten their family? Harriett Chirnwell has a

perfect life -- a husband who loves her, a successful career and a daughter who is destined to become a doctor just like her. Xara has always lived in Harriet's shadow; her chaotic life with her family on their sheep farm falls far short of her older sister's standards of perfection and prestige. Georgie, the youngest sister and a passionate teacher, is the only one of the three to have left Billawarre. But is her life in Melbourne happy? Despite all three sisters having a different and sometimes strained bond with their mother, Edwina, they come together to organise a party for her milestone birthday -- the first since their father's death. But when Edwina arrives at her party on the arm of another man, the tumult is like a dam finally breaking. Suddenly the lives of the Chirnwell sisters are flooded by scandal. Criminal accusations, a daughter in crisis, and a secret over fifty years in the making start to crack the perfect facade of the prominent pastoral family.

My Thoughts

As with all families there is a hierachy within them and the Chirnwells were no different. Not having any sisters, I found it interesting where Harriet, Xara and Georgie thought they belonged in their mother’s affections, how they saw their roles in the family and how they interacted with one another.

Harriet, the eldest of the three Chirnwell sisters, was domineering and not very likeable. Now that her father had passed away, the most like him in temperament, she saw herself as the head of the family and was intent on keeping her mother, Edwina, in line and making sure that the rest of the family stayed true to their role as a prominent Western District family.

Edwina has other ideas. She no longer wishes to live with the shackles of the past where her life was controlled by her father and husband. So when life gives her a second chance at happiness, she grabs it.

While her younger two daughters calmly accept their mother’s choices, it is Harriet who finds it difficult to come to terms with her mother’s decisions and revelations, as well as those of her own daughter, Charlotte. She also has to deal with a scandal that brings to an end the perfect and settled nature of her life. I did feel sorry for Harriet struggling to cope with what was happening around her, but it took this upheaval for her to reassess her life and the people in it.

This book was a thought provoking look at family relationships, especially those between mothers and daughters, and how people deal with personal traumas in their lives. I particularly enjoyed how the revelation of a fifty year old secret changed the Chirnwell sisters' perceptions of the mother they thought they knew.

Despite the slow start, this book was a wonderful read and I'm happy to recommend it.

Thank you to Harlequin Australia via NetGalley for an e-copy of this book to read and review.

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