Author: Fiona Lowe
Published: February 19th 2018
Publisher: HQ Fiction
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Australia, Rural, Saga
Rating: 4 stars
Australian author Fiona Lowe returns with a juicy family saga, set against the backdrop of Victoria’s high country, about unforgettable characters tangled together by a wealthy inheritance, secrets and betrayal.
Is an inheritance a privilege or a right?
Does it show love? Margaret, the matriarch of the wealthy Jamieson family, has always been as tight–fisted with the family money as she is with her affection. Her eldest daughter, Sarah, is successful in her own right as a wife, mother and part owner of a gourmet food empire. But it’s not enough to impress her mother. Always in the shadow cast by the golden glow of her younger brother, Sarah feels compelled to meet Margaret’s every demand to earn her love.
Does it give security? After a poverty–stricken childhood, Anita has claimed the social status she’s worked so hard to achieve by marrying Cameron Jamieson. Although they have a comfortable life, she’s never able to fully relax, fearing everything could change in a heartbeat.
Or does it mean freedom? Ellie, the youngest, has lived a nomadic and – according to her siblings – a selfish life, leaving them to care for their ageing mother. For her, freedom means staying far away from the strings attached to her inheritance, but she needs to consider her young son’s future as well.
As their mother’s health deteriorates, will long–held secrets and childhood rivalries smash this family into pieces?
Birthright, the latest distinctly Australian family saga set piece from Fiona Lowe, marks my second outing with this popular author. After reviewing my first book from the established romance author, Daughter of Mine last year, I was very pleased to be gifted with the opportunity to review Birthright for Beauty and Lace Book Club.
Birthright raises an important question that strikes right at the nucleus of family entitlement. Should inheritance be considered a god given right or a gift? For the wealthy Jamieson clan of Victoria, this has become a matter of great importance in the wake of the declining health of Margaret, the matriarch of the family. Margaret’s inheritance sends the Jamieson offspring and their respective partners into a frenzy of sorts, as each family member debates their entitlement and worthiness in receiving Margaret’s legacy. At the same time, Margaret’s imminent passing acts as the catalyst for plenty of explosive family secrets, old rivalries and questions over claims of entitlement. It is one involving tale that pulls apart family relationships, questions of love, exposes betrayals. It also encourages the Jamiesons to search inside themselves, to discover their own family values.
Since I discovered the writing of Australian author Fiona Lowe and I joined her enthusiastic readers group, I have been looking forward to delving into the pages of her latest enthralling family saga. The high expectations I had going into Birthright were fulfilled, it was a welcome experience to spend my entire weekend with Ms Lowe and the rather complicated Jamieson clan! It took a little while to get into the beginning of this novel. I was almost a quarter of the way through before I felt satisfied with my understanding of the character set. A family tree with a list of the characters and their partners, as well as offspring at the opening of the novel may have assisted in my initial connection to this book.
Fiona Lowe’s life previous to being a fully fledged writer, working in the community health field, has put her in good stead for composing her rich family saga based novels. Lowe has a solid grasp on what makes families tick. She inherently knows what makes family units both thrive and fall to pieces. We witness this in the proceedings of Birthright. There were plenty of feuds surrounding these characters, as well as surprising secrets that were revealed and some entrenched feelings of resentment. I never knew what I was going to encounter next with the Jamiesons. It made for one highly addictive read!
I am certain Birthright will appeal to a wide audience. The main subject matter is an aspect of life and society that many have encountered. Personally, issues of inheritance have touched my own family and resulted in a permanent family estrangement. While I have also witnessed at number of inheritance claims disputed on my in laws side that rattled me to my core. The mind boggles as to the way people change once money is involved. It is a sad fact, but Lowe has her finger on the pulse in her examination of an inheritance being considered as a ‘birthright’.
Those who have experienced Lowe’s novels in the past have a fair idea of how she is able to expertly weave her narrative around a rich and natural Australian setting. Birthright is no exception, I basked in the luscious descriptions of the Victorian setting of Birthright. This aspect of the novel proved to be of great joy to this particular reader and I am sure it will offer the same response to all readers of this book.
Lowe’s approach to her characters is one of care and attention. Each character is incandescent, their individual light shines bright, but they are not without their flaws, which gives each an air of authenticity. The interplay that arises as a result of their complicated relationships and back histories gives much weight to this novel. The characters issue Lowe with enough fertile ground to cover serious issues such as elder abuse, sexual abuse, homosexuality, terminal disease and marital affairs. All these broader issues result in plenty of high drama, which plays out under the backdrop of the central inheritance tussle.
When the final page of Birthright was turned, a sense of relief and satisfaction washed over me. I think despite the fact that some of these characters behaved in a quite despicable way, they ultimately got what was coming their way.
The question of wealth is always a contentious issue and Fiona Lowe explores this subject area with great insight, wrapping the resulting family story up in one engrossing and highly readable novel. Birthright is one novel I would not hesitate to recommend to fans of Australian novels and those of love involving family saga style novels. I’m keen to order more from the talented Fiona Lowe.
Birthright by Fiona Lowe was published on 19th February 2018 by HQ Fiction. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Birthright, Fiona Lowe, visit here.
*Please note that a free copy of this book was provided to me for review purposes through Beauty and Lace and HQ Fiction. To read the original review on the Beauty and Lace website please visit here.
Birthright is book #37 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge