When a surprise birthday party goes horribly wrong the lives of one of the leading families of Billawaree are about to become public property, tearing away the cloak of respectability created over several generations, leaving in its wake a troubled family endeavouring to cope with the ravages created when family secrets are dragged into the light of a new generation.
Harriet Chirnwell has always striven to be the best at whatever she undertook: following in her beloved father’s footsteps, becoming a noted surgeon, a leading socialite, she appears to have the perfect life. She has a cupboard full of designer labels, a daughter doing well at her exclusive boarding school and a husband who is the mayor of Billawarre, a well-respected financier and on a number of philanthropic committees in the town.
Xara, the second sister struggles to cope with life on a working farm, a child with disabilities and rambunctious twin sons. Her life is full and overflowing but she has always been considered the peacemaker in the family.
Georgie, the youngest sister lives in Melbourne, teaches at a local primary school and although her life seems to be going somewhere, is locked in grief over a failed relationship and the death of her baby daughter.
When Edwina, the girl’s Mother, who is also a respected member of the Billawarre community, arrives at her surprise birthday party, the first since her husband’s death some eighteen months previously, with Doug, a man the girls had never seen, let alone knew anything about, looking radiant, the first note in what is to become a traumatic, tangled and torrid time for the entire family is struck.
The second note comes when it is discovered the business activities of Harriet’s husband James are fraudulent; when he is arrested and held in custody the safe secure world that Harriet has always known comes crumbling down.
As the sisters struggle to come to terms with the fall out from James embezzlement, and what appears to be their mothers new lifestyle, they each find their lives changing in a manner they could never have foreseen, making them all re-assess what is really important in their lives.
Secrets more than 50 years old surface shedding a light on a family which for generations, has always covered up the truth at all costs in order to preserve their prestigious standing in the community.
Beautifully written, with a depth of understanding on the workings of family in times of crisis, the story deals with so many of the issues that face families when unexpected events occur and people have to go about learning to accept the reality, rather than the fantasy, that has been the bedrock of their lives.
Though provoking, warm and absolutely immersing this is a story which will resonate and remain with you long after the last page has been read.