Review Blog

Jun 14 2013

The heiresses by Allison Rushby

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Pan Macmillan, Sydney, 2013. ISBN 9781742613147.
(Age 16+) Recommended. Imagine an episode of Gossip Girls set in roaring twenties London and you can imagine the world of this novel: high society, parties, alcohol and young girls concerned about money and beaus.
The central story concerns a set of triplets who were separated at birth when their mother died. At age 17, their aunt brings them back together in the hope of restoring her sister's legacy to her nieces. But first there are several puzzles to solve and deals to be done. For the girls are essentially battling for their share in a personal fortune which could change their lives: for Thalia it could bring a welcome escape from her dour 'family', for Ro it could enable her to study at university, whilst Clio would be able to provide her ailing mother with the care she so desperately needs. The key question is whether the girls will work together in their new-found sisterhood or whether their own personal desires will stand in their way.
Whilst London in the 1920s is captivatingly drawn and Allison Rushby has assembled an engaging cast of characters, there is something rather formulaic about this novel. Each of the girls seems to be a particular type: the sharp-tongued, party-loving Thalia, the steady and rational Ro and the kind-hearted Clio (who just happens to have been raised by a vicar). Despite some twists and turns, there is also a sense of predictability in the plotting: by novel's end all has been explained, wrongs have been addressed (if not always righted) and each of the girls is looking forward to a brighter future. We even have a marriage in the closing pages.
There may be nothing particularly new in this novel but the story is told in an engaging manner and there are sufficient romantic entanglements to keep teenage girls captivated. This is an enjoyable light read but with the heady mix of drugs, alcohol and sex that seems to overtake the lives of these sisters, some school libraries may prefer to promote this book to more mature readers.
Deborah Marshall

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