Melville is a British household name. Men and women shop the Melville range at the flagship store, as well as in their local chain stores. And the newest generation of Melvilles take the family publicity from the Business section to Page Six. And, it is with that generation that is the focus of Tara Hyland’s Daughters of Fortune.
The eldest, Elizabeth, is everything a parent could hope for—smart, ambitious and dutiful. The middle, illegitimate daughter Caitlin is artistic, quiet and calm, but spends too much time distancing herself from the rest of the Melville family. Amber, the youngest, is a wild child—thrown out of private schools left and right for her partying and out of control alcohol and drug use.
Family patriarch William Melville effortlessly rules his family company, but when it comes to his family, the successful businessman runs into roadblock after roadblock. Elizabeth is constantly seeking his approval, but William is far too busy trying to get Amber under control and seeking Caitlyn’s love and attention to try and give his eldest the attention she craves. Her success directly impacts the Melville brand, and Elizabeth is, in more ways than one, the heir apparent to everyone, save William.
William’s relationship with Caitlin is more complicated. The daughter he sired during his affair with a shopgirl grows up with her single mother in Ireland. When William brings the teen to England after her mother’s death, the father tries to give the girl everything she could possibly want. The more he tries to give Caitlin, the further she pushes away from him—especially after she uncovers the annual checks he sent to her mother as ‘hush money.’ The talented, artistic Caitlin leaves her family in England and moves to Paris after college, working in a café and using her mother’s last name as she makes her own way through an elite fashion school.
Spirited Amber is always seeking male attention from the boys at school. But, when her behavior gets noticed by some older, off campus, men with designs to extort the Melville family, William takes matters into his own hands, literally.
Part romance, part sweeping family saga, Tara Hyland’s Daughters of Fortune is sure to make readers stand up and take note of this debut author’s talent, and wait patiently for her next novel.
As a reader, I really liked the attention paid to the different characters. A problem with writing so many characters is that sometimes they can sound very similar, but this is not the case with the characters in Daughters of Fortune. Each one of the characters created by Hyland had a distinct, believable voice, different from any of the other characters in the book.
The lush descriptions of the English privileged life, the brilliant cityscape of Paris and the warm, closeness of an Irish village help draw the reader in further to the world created by this new writer.
Overall, Daughters of Fortune is a great book to cozy up with—whether at the beach on a bright summer day or under the blankets on a winter’s night. Daughters of Fortune is a stunning debut from a promising writer. I recommend this to any reader looking for a world to escape into, with a firm foot in reality as well as a world different enough from most to still be considered fanatasy.
Daughters of Fortune by Tara Hyland
Atria Paperback, 466 pages
Published May 2010, Retail price: $16.00 USD