Title: Sisters Of Fortune
Author: Anna Lee Huber
Publisher: Kensington Books
Genre: Historical Fiction, Womens Fiction
Release Date: 20th February 2024
Based on the true story of the Fortune sisters, three young women each at a crossroads when they boarded the RMS Titanic in the spring of 1912 – and how that fateful maiden voyage would change their lives in profound and unexpected ways.
USA Today bestselling author Anna Lee Huber expertly weaves real historical figures and anecdotes into this vivid, emotionally powerful, surprising novel about the longing for independence and love—and the events that can irrevocably change even the best laid plans . . .
April,1912: It’s the perfect finale to a Grand Tour of Europe—sailing home on the largest, most luxurious ocean liner ever built. For the Fortune sisters, the voyage offers a chance to reflect on the treasures of the past they’ve seen—magnificent castles and museums in Italy and France, the ruins of Greece and the Middle East—and contemplate the futures that await them.
For Alice, there’s foreboding mixed with her excitement. A fortune teller in Egypt gave her a dire warning about traveling at sea. And the freedom she has enjoyed on her travels contrasts with her fiancé’s plans for her return—a cossetted existence she’s no longer sure she wants.
Flora is also returning to a fiancé, a well-to-do banker of whom her parents heartily approve, as befits their most dutiful daughter. Yet the closer the wedding looms, the less sure Flora feels. Another man—charming, exasperating, completely unsuitable—occupies her thoughts, daring her to follow her own desires rather than settling for the wishes of others.
Youngest sister Mabel knows her parents arranged this Grand Tour to separate her from a jazz musician. But the secret truth is that Helen has little interest in marrying at all, preferring to explore ideas of suffrage and reform—even if it forces a rift with her family.
Each sister grapples with the choices before her as the grand vessel glides through the Atlantic waters. Until, on an infamous night, fate intervenes, forever altering their lives . . .
The cover has the Titanic right at the centre of it which is fitting as that is where the plot is based throughout the book. The cover also features a young woman dressed in the style of the era complete with hat, gloves and jewellery. The cover certainly fits the book well.
The book is set on the Titanic, so obviously there are certain facts that cannot be changed but are mentioned within the book. The book also has to stick to a certain timeline as to how the events occurred. It was a bit odd reading the book but kind of knowing what was coming up in the timeline, but I did really enjoy the book.
The interior of the great unsinkable Titanic is described really well and you definitely get a sense of the opulence and atmosphere those passengers were surrounded by. The author really represents the era well in her descriptions of surrounding, etiquette, expectations of women and even the slang and sayings of the era such as 'To the berries' = all so exciting. I had to look it up!
The book concentrates of three of the Fortune Sisters who have been travelling with their parents. The family consist of 64 year old father Mark Fortune, a very proud self-made millionaire, his 60 year old wife Mary Fortune, they had six children, the eldest of which 34 year old Robert is married and lives in Vancouver. Their eldest daughter Clara is 30 years old and married to Herbert Hutton. Robert and Clara are with their own families so didn’t go on the trip. The Fortune children on the trip which ends up with them travelling home on the Titanic, are 28year old Flora who is the dutiful daughter, who has postponed her wedding to banker Crawford Campbell to go on the trip as a chaperone to her younger siblings. Alice is 24 years old but in a lot of ways is treat younger, as she was an ill child and is still considered delicate and needs to be protected, she is engaged to, and madly in love to an insurance broker called Holden Allen. The youngest sister is 23 year old Mabel, the feisty, sassy one, who wants to do her own thing, in fact she wants to continue her education, she doesn’t want to just be married like her sisters. She says inappropriate things and speaks before she thoroughly thinks things out. The youngest Fortune child is 19yr old Charlie who is super knowledgeable about the Titanic and it’s like a dream come true for him when Titanic ship builder Mr Thomas Andrews takes him on a personal tour of the ship.
Whilst sightseeing and exploring Egypt Alice Fortune is sipping hibiscus tea with Mr Sloper a friend the family have made whilst travelling Europe when she spots a soothsayer. Mr Sloper asks if she has ever had a reading, and would she like one. He waves the soothsayer across to where they are sitting and the man reads her palm and tells her she is in danger every time she travels on the sea. He sees her adrift on the ocean in an open boat. She will lose everything but her own life. That she will be saved but others will not. It certainly upsets Alice and William Sloper quickly tries to laugh it off telling the soothsayer he would be paid more if he gave people good predictions. Mark Fortune hadn’t planned on taking his family on Titanic the Ship of Dreams, but when they decided to travel home a little earlier their reservations were switched to the Titanic.
There is a kind of magic about the Titanic, I guess that’s another reason it was called the ship of dreams. The time on the ship gives each of the Fortune Sisters time to think about their individual futures and if that’s what they really want. Flora is the sister that her parents rely on, she is the sensible, dependable one. She is engaged to be married to a man her parents strongly approve of and think is a good match for her. As the trip goes on the dread she feels about her return, she has received only one letter from her future husband Alice is also engaged, to Holden, who is approved of and considered a good match, she is madly in love with him and they have missed each other whilst the Fortunes have been travelling. They have written many letters to each other, but Alice is also dreading the return home to being tied sown to one place and cossetted. Alice has had a taste of freedom and travel that she doesn’t want to let go of. The other sister on board the Titanic and kind of the reason for the trip is Mabel. Mabel is “involved” with a musician, someone her parents do not approve of, they feel he cannot provide financial stability for their daughter. Mr & Mrs Fortune planned the trip to separate Mabel and her musician, in the hopes she will forget about him, perhaps meet someone else, or change her mind. The irony is Mabel enjoys the fact her parents don’t approve and attempts to use him as leverage, to almost blackmail her father, into accepting her real dream, which is to continue her education. Mabel wants to be a more modern independent woman, not married off and expected to have children. At one point Mr & Mrs Fortune try to suggest a suitable suitor for Mabel who is also on the Titanic, the star tennis player Chess Kinsey. Unbeknownst to them Chess does have his eyes set on one of their daughters but it isn’t Mabel, it’s Flora! I really adored the Flora & Chess dislike to friendship to falling in love. Then the Shock! Horror! Mortification! Embarrassment! when Mrs Fortune catches them kissing! And in public too! Where anyone could see! Chess blames himself for ruining Flora’s reputation in her parent’s eyes and arranges a meeting wither father to put himself forward as a suitable suitor with his own suitable finances & future plans.
So along with the Fortune family drama, there’s the scandal of one young man having his mistress on the Titanic whom he plans to marry but is yet to tell his mother! They finally meet in a lifeboat as the Titanic is sinking. There’s another young man travelling with his mother but setting up poker games, which Alice Fortune ends up being drawn into.
I loved the Fortune family dynamic, they are all always there for each other and even though the three sisters, Flora, Alice and Mabel are sharing a room they each have their secrets they are hiding from the others.
I enjoyed reading how the different characters reacted to the Titanic hitting the iceberg and needing to be prepared to get on a lifeboat. There were those that just blindly believed the Titanic was unsinkable and refused to believe the possibility of it sinking. Then there were those who wanted to retrieve jewellery, pets, luggage and take it in the lifeboats with them!
The saddest stories were of the couples and families being separated because of the women & children only policy although this wasn’t as strictly adhered to by some of the crew. The chaos of losing sight or being separated from family members.