Award-winning author Fiona Lowe brings us a sweeping Australian novel of lost love and tangled family secrets – set in Victoria's beautiful Western District. Families are complicated, nothing is black and white and love comes in many guises…
Descendants of Australian squattocracy, the three Chirnwell daughters come from a prominent, well-respected pastoral family in Western Victoria.
Eldest daughter Harriett Chirnwell has the perfect life – a successful career as a general surgeon, a loving husband who is Mayor of Billawarre, and a daughter who is destined to follow in her mother's footsteps.
Harriett's sister Xara has always lived in her sister's shadow. Falling short of her sister's standards of perfection and prestige, Xara juggles her many roles as a community advocate, a farmer's wife and mother to twin boys and a daughter with a severe disability.
Georgie, the youngest sister, is a passionate teacher in Melbourne. Unlike her elder sisters, Georgie is unmarried and has moved away from the rest of her family in Billawarre. But is she really happy?
All three sisters have a different and sometimes strained bond with their mother, Edwina, yet they come together to organise a party for her milestone birthday – the first since their father's death.
When Edwina arrives at her party on the arm of a new man, the lives of the Chirnwell sisters are suddenly flooded with scandal. Criminal accusations, a daughter in crisis, and a long-held secret over fifty years in the making… Could this threaten the Chirnwell's perfect façade and livelihood forever?
To survive the shame brought down on them, the family must learn to pull together or risk losing each other forever…
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. Daughter of Mine is Fiona's 28th novel. Fiona Lowe lives in Western Victoria. Visit www.fionalowe.com
Daughter Of Mine
Author: Fiona Lowe
Question: What inspired you to write Daughter Of Mine?
Fiona Lowe: The first seed was a family wedding. My aunt, who has adult children, remarried at 70 to a man with adult children. Although this wedding was a happy event, I wondered what would happen in a family if the adult children were not all happy with the new relationship. I decided to make the four protagonists women because, in general, women are more vocal about their feelings. I made them mother, daughters and sisters, because those relationships come with expectations and can often be fraught.
Question: Why did you decide to set the book in Western Victoria?
Fiona Lowe: I wanted to write about an establishment family who are very secure in who they are and where they come from. Many families in the Western District of Victoria have a long history not just in the district but long before that. I created the Mannering family. They are well respected in their township and can date their family tree back to England in the 1700s. They've been in the district since 1836 when their forebears crossed the Moorabool River with a mob of sheep. They're known for their philanthropy, their wealth and political and business power in the community and within the family they believe they know their family history. Except there are a few skeletons in the cupboard that have been covered up over the generations and are now silently impacting on the current generation.
Question: How much of the story is inspired by true events and locations?
Fiona Lowe: I created a town but I have placed it in the beautiful Western District and the real towns of Colac, Geelong, Camperdown and Hamiliton are mentioned. I visited some historic mansions in the area and toured the gardens to get a sense of the bygone era of wealth and privilege so I could contemplate how that might impact on the families today. Although the book is set in 2017, the Vietnam War plays a role, as does flower power, Carnaby Street, London, the introduction of the contraceptive pill and the first moon landing. Also, Harriet's husband's antics were sadly inspired by half a dozen local events over the last decade but I don't want to give away spoilers!
Question: What was the best thing about creating the character of Harriett?
Fiona Lowe: Ah, Harriet! She's a complicated woman. Just when you think she's an out and out bitch, you see the pieces of good in her. There are times when I really didn't like her, times when I felt sorry for her, and there were times when I cheered her on. Sometimes Harriet gets to say things I can only dream of being able to say because they would cause too much pain and angst even if they're correct.
Interview by Brooke Hunter
Daughter Of Mine
Author: Fiona Lowe