Fiona Lowe’s latest book, Daughter of Mine, reminded me of Monica McInerney’s books, particularly The Alphabet Sisters. This also has three very different sisters, but born in a Victorian country town, with similar family dramas, relationship issues, secrets and lies. The characters are introduced and then the deceit and the surprises are slowly revealed. This book has a further layer that was intriguing, with inter-racial relationships adding to the scandals.
Harriet is the eldest sister with – ‘Perfect marriage. Perfect child. Perfect Life’. She is a ‘surgeon, wife of the mayor and the woman on everyone’s invitation list’. The perfect child, Charlotte, is boarding in Melbourne’s best school, where her mother and aunts had gone. Her mother didn’t want anyone to forget that ‘Mannering House exists because our great-great-grandfather donated the money to the school’. Harriet has her daughter’s life planned out for her – finish school, get into medicine and follow in her mother’s and grandfather’s footsteps.
Harriet wondered if she actually shared any DNA with middle daughter Xara. She had been a lawyer but married farmer Steve and raises her daughter Tasha who has cerebral palsy, where everything is ‘part compromise, part hope and part heartbreak’, and twin boys. ‘Unlike Harriet, Xara had been unexpectedly completed by motherhood’.
Youngest sister Georgie works as a teacher in Melbourne. She had thought she was going to have the family she wanted but tragedy struck and she is on her own.
They are all gathered for matriarch Edwina’s birthday back at home. Her husband and father of the three women died thirteen months before and Edwina is reacquainted with an old flame. As she said, ‘being upfront and dealing with things head on isn’t something my family’s very good at’. But they soon have to learn.
The personalities of each of them are reflected in the events that unfold, and their reactions to them, each with their strengths and flaws all believable and relatable. Their perceptions of one another weren’t always reliable, adding to the family dynamics.
Sibling rivalry, the search for perfection, the power of privilege, are covered alongside the impact of disability, the identity of Aboriginal people in Australia, grief and loss. This book left me wanting to know more about each of these wonderful characters, and what the future holds for each of them. Perhaps Fiona Lowe can help out with that.