Sunday, May 2, 2010

Daughters of Fortune-Tara Hyland

Daughters of Fortune
Tara Hyland
Atria, May 11 2020, $16.00
ISBN: 9781439165065

In 1974 in Valleymount, Ireland, single mom Katie O’Dwyer dies. On her deathbed she informs her beloved fifteen year old daughter that her father is London based retailer William Melville. They had an affair that he ended just before Caitlin's birth. William attends Katie’s funeral and informs his daughter that she will move into the family estate in Somerset.

William's wife Isabelle resents her husband’s illegitimate daughter and their spoiled daughters, Elizabeth and Amber, treat her as if she is beneath them. At her new school, Caitlin is drugged and gang-raped, but decides not to have the animals arrested. Instead over the years she struggles to adjust from a middle class existence to an affluent one. She finishes her schooling and goes to Paris to study fashion design before traveling to New York to prove her talent. Elizabeth becomes a chip off her dad’s block with her business acumen that she hopes to use to win daddy’s approval; and Amber becomes a supermodel with emotional issues that lead to out of control behavior.

When the focus is on the three sisters and their struggles to make it in their chosen fields and how they relate to their parents (stepmother obviously in Caitlin’s case), the story line is a terrific family saga. When the plot spotlights other family members, it feels intrusive as too much of a soap opera spin occurs. Still the siblings are wonderfully complete as each has personal issues and flaws while trying to make it independently and eventually in unity.

Harriet Klausner

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