Author: Fiona Lowe
Fiona Lowe is a prolific Australian author who is published across different genres, platforms and publishers and the winner of some prestigious awards. It turns out that I have not read any of her books, until now.
Daughter of Mine is a fabulous fiction novel of family, and everything that goes along with it. The story encompasses generations of the same prestigious family in the small Victorian town of Billawarre.
The Chirnwell sisters are very different but they have always been close, they share very different bonds with their mother though all of them are strained. The book explores many family relationships but the main focus is on the mother/daughter relationships and the bonds between sisters.
Harriet, the eldest, is a respected surgeon with a successful husband who loves her and a teenaged daughter she holds high hopes for. She has the huge house, the designer wardrobe, the Mannering sense of duty and fear of scandal.
Xara is a happily married mother of three living on a sheep farm. Her life is far from the prestige of her older sister and her standards of perfection are much lower. Xara and Harriet are close but they are very different and often don’t see eye to eye. Harriet can’t understand why Xara went on to have more children after her daughter was born with cerebral palsy and needs so much special care.
Georgie is the baby of the family and the only one to have left her small hometown to teach in Melbourne. She is in regular contact with her mother and her sisters but the distance between them is more than just physical. She has always keenly felt her place as the youngest, her relationship with her parents was different and she never felt like her opinions mattered with her sisters.
The major catalyst for the story centres on the birthday party the girls throw for their mother’s 65th birthday. Harriet wants to throw her a surprise party like her late father used to do, the Chirnwells have always been well known for throwing amazing parties. Edwina Chirnwell throws a lifelong habit of avoiding scandal out the window when she arrives at her party with a man on her arm; and it’s her daughters who are the most scandalised.
Edwina isn’t the centre of attention for long though, during the course of the party criminal accusations are leveled at the mayor and that becomes the big news in town.
The Chirnwell women are faced with some major issues and the way they deal with them, and the way it affects their relationships with each other is both realistic and thought-provoking.
The expectations we have of ourselves and those around us are a big part of Daughter of Mine, we see how the relationships of our childhood affect the bonds we form into adulthood. Children see and remember a lot of things, more than we give them credit for at times, and those things remain with us and often form the basis of our belief systems into adulthood. So what happens if we grow up seeing the public facade and never knowing the full story, the secrets and the lies that are hidden to protect the reputation of the family?
Daughter of Mine unearths decades old secrets as well as recent indiscretions to turn a family on its head and challenge all the beliefs that have been held through long years.
I fell in love with all of these characters for different reasons and in different ways; even those who seemed cold and distant were a product of circumstance and as the story unfolded we got to know them which led to an understanding of their motivations and a deep sense of empathy.
Motherhood, sisterhood and daughterhood are all fraught with challenges and obstacles; some women face more than others and that is explored within these pages. I couldn’t help but feel for these women, some of the issues that they faced were obvious but others were much more subtle.
Daughter of Mine is a beautiful story of bonds, family expectations and the insidious and far reaching effects of secrets and lies. It may be the first book I have read by Fiona Lowe but I’m sure it won’t be the last.
Daughter of Mine is book #10 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.