Daughters of Fortune by Tara Hyland

(No Series)

Katie O'Dwyer flees the constraints of her rural Irish upbringing for the excitement of London. Here she meets and falls in love with William Melville: the imposing head of the Melville fashion dynasty. Elusive, charismatic; married. Their affair is brief but passionate. Katie conceives a child. Fifteen years later she succumbs to cancer; and her beautiful daughter Caitlin finds that she must go to live in England, with the father she has never met. Her half-sisters - cold, high-achieving Elizabeth, and spoilt princess Amber - react to her with hostility; while their elegant mother is too high on valium to notice what goes on. Reeling from her mother's death, unable to fit into this alien world, Caitlin is sent away to boarding school. It is here that something happens which is so awful, so brutalizing, it will change Caitlin forever . . .

Over the next fifteen years the sisters' lives will take them in very different directions. Golden girl Elizabeth will enter the family business, hoping to fulfil her destiny of taking the helm; longing above all for her father's approval. But Caitlin remains William's favourite; even though she has rejected his love and his money. In fact, Caitlin's success as a high-fashion designer has been achieved entirely on her own terms. Amber, meanwhile, is too beautiful for her own good. Spoilt but unloved, she craves attention: this makes her easy pickings for predatory men. But the sisters' paths will continue to cross. Because the simple truth is that, no matter how far you go, you cannot escape the claims of family.

This book was great, although tragic. I didn't know if I'd like it much because of the incredibly depressing start, but it turned out fine in the end and was a delight to read. The back cover synopsis explains that one of the sisters come into the world of the other sisters when she's older and not really accepted. The book chronicles the story from that point onward, through plenty of drama, tragedy, acceptance and eventually, family healing.

A sappy book this is not - there are plenty of horrible scenes to behold. A gang/date rape, and then the most disturbing scene of the book, where one of the women gets so into drug abuse and addiction she ends up prostituting herself, ends up being so out of it she wakes up to see a bloody baseball bat that's been used "there" on her.  The author doesn't shy away at all from delicacies and dives straight into how dark things grow when lives gets twisted.

For a first book the writing style of the author was talented and confident. She gripped my readers brain as she led me through this the intricate story of the sisters and all involved with them at a personable and rapid pace, holding little back.

I loved the characters. All held warmth, positive traits and negative faults. Their three-dimensional lives almost jumped off the page. Elizabeth, Carolyn and Amber were all interesting - and completely different - paper people.  The father could seem offstandish and he was completely devoted to his work; however, I really dug his character and how he handled things when they grew rough. I especially loved how he handled the blackmail photos when he walked in that door, awesome.

The ending wrapped it up in a worthy way, but with a bittersweet touch.  While the book is like a fascinating soap opera you can't change the channel to, there are some minor flaws. For one there's a a decent amount of character swapping, and there's a lot of minor characters to keep up with as well. The books a little predictable and slightly fluffy without high enough substance to merit five stars, but it makes great reading, especially by the pool and for summertime.

 If you dig family sagas, this one you need to read, especially if you're also a fan of chick lit.


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