Aussie YA Book Review: The Heiresses by Allison Rushby

The HeiressesMy Rating:              4 / 5
Format:                   Paperback courtesy of Pan Macmillan
Publication Date:    1 May 2013
Category:               Children's: General Fiction
ISBN:                      9781742613147
Publisher:               Pan Macmillan
Imprint:                   Pan Australia
Extent:                    352 pages
RRP:                      AU$14.99

The Blurb

“Money, Intrigue, Secrets and Scandal.

Seventeen-year-olds Thalia, Erato and Clio are summoned to glittering 1926 London by Hestia, an aunt they never knew they had.  They are shocked to discover they were separated at birth and are in fact triplets and the rightful heiresses to their deceased mother’s fortune.  All they need to do is find a way to claim the inheritance from their greedy half brother, Charles.

The sisters move to Hestia’ house in Belgrave Square to begin their new lives.  But amidst the confusion of new romances and money, they each struggle to find their way.  Thalia knows she can never return home to her dark past; Erato’s dreams threaten to slip from her grasp; and Clio must save the only mother she has ever known.

As the battle for their shared fortune grows more complex, the girls realise that they can’t trust anyone – least of all each other.

A thrillingly addictive saga of love, betrayal, money and intrigue.”

Summary and Thoughts

Three young women, triplets separated at birth, are brought together seventeen years later by their estranged aunt against the backdrop of London’s roaring 1920’s.

Thalia, the oldest, is rather worldly-wise and a party girl through and through – if there’s a party going on, she’ll be the first one to know about it!  Having been brought up in a family who didn’t have much time for her she was left mostly to her own devices and as a consequence, has always felt somewhat isolated.  As a result, she comes across as quite self-absorbed and while her moral choices leave something to be desired, she harbours a terrible secret.

Erato (Ro) is the scholarly one.  Brought up in her Uncle Henry’s home, a professor himself, she is quite level-headed and rather learned with aspirations of becoming a doctor.  Having led a pretty ordinary life  and attended boarding school for most of the time, there’s only one thing that has always eluded her - a sibling.  So, it’s not surprising that she takes a bit of a shine to Clio.

Clio, the sweet one, and the youngest, has lived a somewhat poor but happy existence being brought up in a loving home by a Vicar and his wife.  With her father having passed, things have become quite difficult financially and, when it comes right down to it, she’s trying desperately to provide for and take care of her mother who’s health is ailing.  She’s a gentle soul and has difficulty settling into the glitz and glamour of London, but at least Ro is friendly enough.

Three very different young women shaped by their totally dissimilar upbringings and value systems, they are summoned to London by their estranged aunt, Hestia, after the passing of their biological father and, as if the first shocks of discovering the existence of each other and their aunt is not enough, they are further surprised to learn that they are in fact heiresses to their mother’s fortune.

Hestia, a remarkably independent and wealthy woman feels satisfied that she has finally been able to live up to the promise she made to her dying sister and, having now gathered the girls together under one roof, is able to go ahead with her plans in achieving what turns out to be a seemingly impossible task – securing their inheritance.

However, in doing so there is just one problem – the girls’ half-brother Charles who refuses to acknowledge their existence.  Charles, a promising politician isn’t prepared to risk a scandal and have his family’s name dragged through the mud and persistently denies the triplets what is rightfully theirs, unless they all leave town.
Sparks fly as the girls begin to get to know one another and, with the usual family loyalty of siblings having never been ingrained in them, as unspeakable truths come to the fore, their loyalties constantly shift as each of them consider how they are going to utilise an inheritance which is just out of reach.

Charles appears to have the upper hand when he reveals a well-kept secret, and continues to play twisted games with the sisters and the girls, finally forming a united front, are once again thrown into turmoil when Thalia gets herself into a disgraceful pickle and a chance encounter with a friend of the family finally reveals who the rightful beneficiary of the fortune is!

It is apparent that Allison Rushby has done a lot of research in order to recreate the historical authenticity and culture of this era which clearly comes through in her well-rounded characters and atmospheric prose, pulling you in to the colourful people and wild parties, the decorum of the time and the beautiful fashions of the day, remarkably bringing to life 1920’s London in all its splendour and bohemian flamboyance.

Unfortunately it isn't all rosy and, as with all eras, there is a seamier side which Ms Rushby doesn’t shy away  from, threading it through the narrative and giving us a glimpse into excessive drinking at parties in which people succumbed to the champagne haze of the period, the illicit drug-taking which went on behind closed doors and some licentious liaisons!

Previously released as a six part e-serial and, along with the controversial concept of Eugenics playing a large role, this novel which has been labelled "New Adult", is a family saga filled with the dramatic highs and lows of greed, scandal, family secrets, betrayal and loyalty which Downton Abbey fans will find enthralling.

I wish to thank the publisher, Pan MacMillan, for providing me with a paperback copy of this glitzy novel.

Please stand by for a Q & A with Allison Rushby in which you will be able to learn more about this author who has, over the past ten years, published five books for young adult readers and five for adult readers in the women’s fiction genre.


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