Award-winning Australian author Fiona Lowe returns with a gripping family saga, set against the backdrop of Victoria's high country. A family is tangled together by a wealthy inheritance, secrets, simmering childhood rivalry and betrayal. Is inheritance a privilege or a right?
Three families. Three claims. One Fortune… Let the scheming begin…
The Jamieson's are a wealthy family in the heart of Victoria's high country. But Margaret, the matriarch, 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.
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 may change in a heartbeat.
Ellie, the youngest, has lived a nomadic and – according to her siblings – 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 for their mother's health deteriorates, will long-held secrets and childhood rivals smash this family into pieces?
Author Fiona Lowe explains "Families are only ever one event away from imploding and I started to ponder the question of inheritance. Where there's a will there's a relative is a well-known phrase which really is at the centre of Birthright. It's also a timely topic given the current era of -inheritance impatience', which is causing concern at a national level and is part of the assisted dying debate. My own family have navigated the perils of inheritance and once I started writing this book I was overwhelmed with anecdotes from friends and strangers. It is a fraught and highly emotional topic and some of the stories I've been told make your hair stand on end!"
Fiona Lowe has been a midwife, a sexual health counsellor and a family support worker - an ideal career path for an author who writes novels about family and relationships. A recipient of the prestigious USA RITA award and the Australian Ruby award, Fiona's books are set in small country towns, feature real people facing difficult choices and explore how family ties and relationships impact our decisions. Fiona spent her early years in Papua New Guinea where, without television, reading was her best form of entertainment – inevitably leading to a lifelong love of books. Birthright is Fiona's 30th novel, following the success of her debut commercial fiction hit Daughter of Mine (March 2017). Fiona Lowe lives in Western Victoria.
Author: Fiona Lowe
Question: How would you describe Birthright?
Fiona Lowe: It's a novel about a family and a large inheritance, but it's so much more than that. It's about adult sibling rivalry, secrets, lies, scheming, revenge and betrayal. The Jamieson family encounter some very heavy weather in this book and it's not just from inside the family.
Question: What inspired the idea of Birthright?
Fiona Lowe: When you're writing a large meaty novel it's never just one idea but a series of thoughts and issues, which collide. There was the very public and protracted battle over the Hancock-Rinehart money and in the last few years there have been increasing media reports on elder abuse. Once people received their inheritance around age fifty. These days, with people living longer, children are often retired before their parents die and some families put a great deal of pressure on ageing relatives to get their share early to assist with the buying of a house and/or educating grandchildren. Of course, all of this ties in with -Is inheritance a privilege or a right?' The jury is out on that one.
Question: Are the characters based on anyone you know?
Fiona Lowe: No, this is fiction. They are my own creations, the amalgams of character traits. That said, when I wrote the character of Sarah, who is very much part of the sandwich generation"she has teenage children, an ageing mother and a husband struggling in midlife"I think I channelled some of my life into hers. My husband just read this and wants it noted that he's not struggling!
Question: There are several issues raised in this book. Was this deliberate or did the story evolve this way?
Fiona Lowe: It was deliberate. This book is about an extended family and the inheritance thread is a central theme. In families, no one is ever the same, we all have different personalities and this is very clear in Margaret, Sarah, Cameron and Ellie. The siblings have all experienced childhood differently. Each have different opinions about many things and when you add in the fact they're all in adult relationships and have their own children, their lives outside of the extended family play a big role in the book.
Question: What's next, for you?
Fiona Lowe: I'm currently working on a novel about a rural community, which has suffered from a devastating natural disaster. It centres on the lives of four disparate women who in normal circumstance would never come together as a group, but circumstances have forced this upon them. Of course, they all have different wants and needs and that makes for lots of conflict, which hopefully will make it a page turner. It will be released in March 2019.
Interview by Brooke Hunter
Author: Fiona Lowe