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 Caitlun 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!