Aussie Book Review: The Maxwell Sisters by Loretta Hill

“‘You are cordially invited to the wedding of Phoebe and Christopher . . .’

All families have their problems. No more so than the Maxwells of Tawny Brooks Winery. Situated in the heart of the Margaret River wine region, this world-renowned winery was the childhood home to three sisters, Natasha, Eve and Phoebe.

Today all three women are enmeshed in their city lives and eager to forget their past – and their fractured sibling relationships. Until Phoebe decides to get married at home. . .

Now the sisters must all return to face a host of family obligations, vintage in full swing and interfering in-laws who just can’t take a hint. As one romance blossoms and others fall apart, it seems they are all in need of some sisterly advice.

But old wounds cut deep. Somehow, the Maxwell sisters must find a way back to one another – or risk losing each other forever.

The Maxwell Sisters is a heartwarming romantic comedy about three extraordinary women on a journey to find love and rediscover family.”

I was somewhat stunned when I realised that this book had already been published during January this year (where has the time gone?) and that I had only recently got it to the top of my TBR. That being said, although much time has elapsed and many great reviews have already been written, I’ve decided to add my own because I enjoyed the story so much and think it should still be promoted.

Those of us who have ever planned a wedding know how much strain it can place on the most organised of shoulders but throw into the mix three sisters who were once close but now, due to the pace of life, distance and secrets, have grown apart with no idea how to re-connect; two sets of parents hell-bent on giving their children the wedding of their dreams with a bit of meddling; and an estranged husband, former best friend and local Adonis.

In the form of the Maxwell sisters (Natasha, Phoebe and Eve), their parents, Heath, “Spider” (and his parents) and Adam, Loretta Hill brings us this light but heart-warming story about  sisterhood, old rivalries, loyalty, plenty of secrets but ultimately what it means to be a family.

Set over the month leading up to the wedding, the story begins to unfold when super organised Phoebe, adamant to have things her way, decides that their childhood home, Tawny Brooks Winery, is the perfect place to have her wedding, using it as an excuse to bring everyone back together after a fire that destroyed both the restaurant on the property and her sister Eve’s dreams.

Unbeknownst to her though, each of her sisters is facing some type of turning point in their life with Natasha pining after a tragedy and the breakdown of her marriage to Heath and Eve, still trying to come to terms with the fact that while she fell in love with her best friend as a girl, he is now a man on the brink of getting married.

What does it mean to have a sister? For me I think this quote by Erica E Goode from "The Secret World of Siblings" sums it up perfectly:

Sibling relationships ... outlast marriages, survive the death of parents, resurface after quarrels that would sink any friendship. They flourish in a thousand incarnations of closeness and distance, warmth, loyalty and distrust.

I’m always intrigued by stories about sibling dynamics and Loretta Hill has given us a lovely glimpse into the Maxwell girls and theirs. All strong and independent women, she textures them by making them deal with real life in the midst of what should be a time for celebration, writing with an ease that flows from page to page.

Through their different viewpoints she invites you into their lives by sharing their trials, tribulations, laughter and tears, affording us a sense of realism that makes them fully come to life combined with comedy that is not forced but rather flows naturally from their interactions and dialogue.

Engaging characters, an inviting location with a true sense of place and a story about the enduring bonds of sisterhood and family make this an enticing read that is ideal to settle down with next to a warm fire while you enjoy a delicate Pinot Noir which, like sisters, becomes more complex with age.

I wish to thank Random House Australia for providing me with an eGalley proof of this novel.

About the Author

Loretta Hill always wanted to be a writer. As a kid she filled pages of exercise books with stories to amuse her friends. Her father, who never wasted his time on fiction, didn't see much worth in this pastime and pushed her to pursue a 'sensible' career. Fortunately, she had inherited some of his talent for numbers and decided to give it a go. She graduated from the University of Western Australia as structural engineer and took her first job with a major West Australian engineering company. 

A few years later she met a lawyer at a Black Friday party hosted by a friend. She was dressed as the devil and he just came as himself. They are now happily married and living in Perth with their two young sons and infant daughter.

Despite her career in engineering, her interest in law and her journey into motherhood, Loretta continued to write. Not because she had a lot of time but because it was and always had been an addiction she couldn't ignore.

For her bestselling novels The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots, The Girl in the Hard Hat and The Girl in the Yellow Vest, Loretta drew upon her own outback engineering experiences of larrikins, red dust and steel-capped boots. She is also the author of the ebook novella One Little White Lie, which was a no.1 bestseller on iTunes.


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