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'Daughters of Fortune' spans a period of thirty years and follows the trials and joys of businessman William Melville's three daughters. Elizabeth and Amber, William's daughters by his wife Isabel, were brought up in the lap of luxury; the only thing they missed out on as they grew up was having their father around: William was always too busy working to spend time with them. Caitlin, William's third daughter, also lacked her father: she was 15 before she discovered she was the product of a love affair between William and her recently deceased Irish mother. Her father insists Caitlin's brought to live in the Melville's mansion, but she doubts she'll ever find any affinity with her spoilt, aloof half sisters.
I loved the feeling of grandeur and wealth which went along with the novel; this is a family who are extremely rich and are used to living the high life but, as always, the adage is certainly true that money doesn't buy happiness. Whilst from the outside this world would appear to be ideal and the characters in it flawless, it's only when we're taken closer that we see that of course, this isn't completely true.
I was worried I'd be put off the story a little by how perfect the sisters appeared, and in particular by how good-looking they all are, but actually this just seemed to add to the whole grandeur of the narrative. In a way these women seem at first glance to almost be a type of super-human: beautiful, rich and talented, but naturally like all of us girls, they do have failings and weaknesses, making their characters much more satisfying to explore.
Caitlin was the most 'ordinary' of the girls - probably because she'd had such a normal upbringing until her mother dies. Her talent for fashion design is something which is vastly different to anything that her half-sisters can do and, althought it would have been very easy for her to have used this ability to become part of her father's business, she chooses to remain independent. Her determination to stand on her own two feet and make her own way in the world was a trait which endeared her to me.
Amber quickly became my least favourite of the sisters - she really was extremely shallow and self-centred. Though, having said that, she's not totally without redemption and her treatment by her family has a lot to do with her behaviour. Thankfully she comes into her own towards the end of the novel - maybe a sequel would give her a chance to shine?
Following the lives of William Melville's three children was completely engrossing, and setting the novel over thirty years meant that the reader really experiences the characters' developments from childhood to a point in their lives where their true colours begin to become apparent. Wonderful, gripping escapism, 'Daughters of Fortune' is a glamorous and thrilling read from start to finish.
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Daughters of Fortune is a sprawling saga about the two Melville sisters, Elizabeth and Amber, and their half-sister Caitlyn, born as a result of their father's infidelity. The novel covers decades of their lives, from childhood through to becoming strong, successful women.
This is going to be a gushing review. Sure, the book will never win the Pulitzer prize. It will never be held up as a literary classic. But, as an example of the bonkbuster/family saga genre, it is vastly superior to many of the offerings on the shelves.
Hyland writes with a real warmth for her subject matter - her characters jump into life in three dimensional fashion, not one of them without both flaws and virtues. I really cared about the three Melville girls - and I think my favourite was Elizabeth. Her particular journey from icy young socialite to businesswoman and then mother showed the strength in Hyland's writing - at times I hated Elizabeth, but I was always interested in finding out what would happen to her.
I have my quibbles. I felt that Caitlin reconciled a little too readily with her father; the whole storyline concerning Amber and her drug abuse could have easily been either extended or removed entirely - in its current form, I would far rather have read more about Elizabeth and Caitlyn, because I didn't really become invested in Amber's plight.
I will warn that there is sex in this book - it is more Jilly Cooper than Barbara Taylor Bradford - and there are a couple of shocking instances (including one scene of, essentially, rape, which made my jaw drop), but this is nothing that readers of bonkbusters won't have encountered before.
I was drawn into this tale - to the point that I didn't want to put it down for anything! I begrudged anything that took me away from reading, and felt constantly compelled to continue - the term "page turner" was coined for this book! The chapters were short and neat, though, which meant it was incredibly easy to pick up and put down where necessary.
Considering the size, I whipped through this in double quick time, devouring the tale of the Melville sisters voraciously. Hyland has penned an absolute gem of a novel, considering this was her debut: writing with confidence and a voice that grips immediately. I can't wait to tackle her next piece of work!
Review posted to Floor to Ceiling Books
Having dipped my toe into various different authors of "glamour fiction" as I like to call it, I have been pleasantly surprised that there have been a few more authors that I'd read again whereas I'd only ever been interested in the offerings of the Bagshawe sisters. Recently, I read "Players" by Karen Swan and was suitably impressed enough to explore other authors in this genre. My next was this one by Tara Hyland and once again, it turned out to be a worthwhile read for me, especially since, like Swans book, this is also Hylands debut book, which makes it even more impressive for me.
I won't lie and tell you that this book tells us a unique story that has never been told before, and I won't tell you that the characters in this book are quirky and fascinating. These books are what they are; glamorous escapism, a story that has probably been told several times over by characters that are as clichéd as the last book you would have read in this genre. That is exactly what I expected, but it is the telling of the story that makes it a good or a bad book in my opinion.
This is the story of three very different sisters, the heirs to a large and well renowned fashion dynasty. Smart and ambitious eldest daughter Elizabeth has always worked hard at getting her father's approval, and even when she successfully starts working at his business, she finds herself overshadowed and overlooked. Amber, the youngest daughter has been spoilt by her mother from day one, constantly getting herself in scrapes and has a deep liking for bad boys which gets her into too much trouble. The middle sister is illegitimate is Caitlin O'Dwyer. Caitlin has spent the last fifteen years living in Ireland with her mum but her mothers death brings the truth about her father, forcing her to move to England and live with him, his wife and his two daughters. The struggle to adjust is too much for the sisters and soon they are separated by their own lives and dark secrets. However, the family business soon calls them home, proving that you cannot escape the claims of family.
The strongest element to this story is that amongst the fluff and glamour of another pampered rich girls story, Hyland has included some pretty gritty and gruesome elements that make this story break out from a world which most of us only dream of. Some of the other elements in this story are drug and gang rape, murder, and drugs. It is pretty hard hitting - probably as it is under the facade of being this girly book and so the impact of it is all the more astounding. I found that the rape sections, although not overly detailed were pretty hard to swallow for obvious reasons, but I also felt that the author tackled this with sensitivity and intelligence giving enough information to make it interesting and also hard hitting.
Of course, there are plenty of the usual topics covered in this book. Romance and career climbing aside, sibling rivalry is top of the list and I especially liked how the relationships and characters developed from the first meeting as teens through to their adult lives. First impressions always count and the impressions of Elizabeth and her father William Melville are ones that quickly change once the story gets wheels. It surprised me how my judgement changed of these two especially throughout the book which always kept me on my toes and made it an enjoyable story overall.
If I was to change anything to do with the story, I would say that there was one too many story threads in this book. I was content and felt like there was enough material to carry the book through to the end without the storyline of William Melville's jealous brother. Creating this character and storyline meant that there was often just too much going on in the book as well as it making it slightly unbelievable and a little bit uninteresting. It was a complete and utter overstretch and also completely unnecessary!
I found both Caitlin and Elizabeth very likeable but somehow warmed more to Elizabeth over time than Caitlin despite her really being the central point of the book. Despite her not-so-privileged upbringing, the horrible things that happened to her at school and her determination to succeed on her own, I occasionally found her hard to really like especially with regards to her treatment of Lucien throughout the book (even taking into consideration the circumstances surrounding them). Elizabeth on the other hand is everything I expected to despise; a spoilt rich kid yearning for her daddys approval. However, I found that her story was just as interesting as Caitlins and she came across as warm, determined if not a little single minded at times.
Overall this is a great book for summer reading. It had all the right elements, with some tough storylines tackled with sensitivity thrown in for good measure which also helped keep it grounded. The characters were all interesting and evolved naturally over the course of the book and the story (despite the interference of Williams brother) flowed making it an interesting book that was hard to put down. If this is Hylands debut, I have high expectations for the follow up.
The Melville sisters might have money but does it always lead to happiness? Eldest daughter Elizabeth is determined to succeed in her family's business, despite the fact her father and owner William Melville doesn't seem to be very supportive of her plans. Elizabeth isn't about to back down but is she one to work behind the scenes without the glory? Amber isn't blessed with the business brains of her sister, but has the looks to carry her through. Amber doesn't have any plans to work for the family company but she's decided that modelling is the career for her. She moves to LA without her family's blessing and meets up with some bad boys and gets into things she knows she shouldn't. Unfortunately for Amber, she doesn't know a way out. Finally, illegimate daughter Caitlin is still coming to terms with the death of her beloved mother when she's sent to live with her father William and his family. Caitlin soon feels she doesn't belong in the opulent world of the Melville's and breaks free as soon as she can. She's determined to make her own way in the world without using her family name, but is she going to get the success and recognition she's always wanted? And what about the family too?
The gorgeous proof of Tara Hyland's debut novel Daughters of Fortune landed on my doorstep a few weeks ago, and I was really curious to see what it was going to be like. It sounded very much in the vein of Tilly and Louise Bagshawe, Lulu Taylor and Olivia Darling, all authors that I love so I was pretty sure I was going to enjoy this book. I adore the gorgeous blue cover, and think it will really make it stand out in bookshops simply because it looks so elegant and the blue is just divine. Tara also revealed the American cover on her website, and we featured it in a Cover Wars post a while back, but I definitely prefer the UK cover! Anyway, back to the review.
It's a huge chunk of a book at 400 pages, but I found these whizzed past quite fast because you can absorbed into the book very quickly. It begins with a look into the past at Caitlin's mother Katie and how she was born. I was a bit surprised by this because I expected the action to begin with the 3 sisters quite quickly so it was nice for the author to take a different route. The book moves through a few time periods throughout the book so we can see the development of these characters throughout their lives from young teenagers to adult women working with the Melville company. Therefore, I was able to develop feelings for them and actually care about what happened to them.
Hyland creates the wonderful world of Melville really well, but doesn't dwell too much on the shop side of things, rather choosing to focus on behind-the-scenes of the company and the personal life of the 3 girls.Caitlin seems to be the main character of the 3 as it is her feelings we encounter first of all, and she is the one that the sympathy of the reader is aimed at. As the book progresses, it moves onto a deeper look at the lives of Elizabeth and Amber, but I still found myself what Caitlin was up to! I liked how different the 3 sisters were, it made for 3 very different stories, and the way they weaved together towards the end was perfect.
Hyland's writing is very easy to read, and progresses the story very well. She writes in the third person which is the most logical writing style due to the amount of main characters used. This allows Hyland to jump backwards and forwards between characters easily, and gives an overall cohesion to the book. This book is definitely a bonkbuster - there's sex, drugs and a whole lot more besides, but I found it was done in a very tasteful way and wasn't out of place in the book at all. The sex scenes were well written, and I didn't cringe at them as I sometimes do so well done to Tara for writing these scenes well. The scenes with Amber were at times a tad awkward to read because of what is hinted at, but this is acceptable because of the plot around it, it doesn't feel too gratuitous or out of place.
If you are fans of the Bagshawe sisters, Jo Rees or any of the other "bonkbuster" authors out there, then you'll love Tara Hyland's debut. It's story sucks you in and keeps you hooked until the last page, and even then you're not sure everything is going work out okay for the Melville family. There are characters to love and hate, storylines that you will love and it travels the globe too so there's plenty in here to keep you going. It's gorgeous cover will jump out at you and rightly so, it's a superb read that I loved. Yes, it is long but don't let that put you off, it needs each of those pages to make the story. I really enjoyed reading this book, and I think Tara Hyland will have a great career ahead of her if this book is anything to go by!
ISBN: 978-1847376961. Published by Simon and Schuster in March 2010. Pages: 400. RRP: £12.99.
Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to review for http://chicklitreviews.com.
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