The often complex web of family relationships can headily encompass an unforeseen and nuanced detour. Such truths are readily spelt out in phenomenally talented English Australian (she was born in England and migrated to Australia in 2006) author, Michelle Upton’s, soaring debut novel, Terms of Inheritance.
Taking place predominantly on Queensland’s glittering and opulent (in certain areas) Gold Coast and Brisbane’s bayside, Terms of Inheritance follows the seemingly consistent and neverending trials and tribulations of the Turner family.
Jacki Turner (65) is the domineering matriarch of the Turner clan, and appears to be uncaring and dismissive of her four daughters – Isla (43), Rose (40), Mel (38) and Jess (30).
Jacki lives a flamboyant life of luxury, being in charge of (and a majority shareholder in) Turner Hotels and Casinos. When she ‘summons’ her daughters to see her at her estate at Sovereign Islands (deservedly named The Castle), the girls are initially unaware of why their mother has called a meeting. Devastatingly however, Jacki informs them she is dying and may only have a year to live.
Jacki then goes on to detail the terms of the girls’ inheritance. In order to gain Jacki’s money upon her death, each daughter must fulfil a task. A task that Jacki has decided they all need to achieve within a year, to gain Jacki’s cumulative and jaw-dropping wealth.
Isla (married to Steve, with whom she runs the highly successful Turner Jewellers chain of stores) must discover the ‘real her’. Isla lives in a penthouse and needs Jacki’s money the least (or does she?).
Rose is the grief-stricken widow of Richard, and mother to his children, Harrison and Taylor. Now she has a new partner, Tom (“a British Youtuber ten years her junior” and father to Rose’s baby, Bethany). Rose, on maternity leave, and living in a dilapidated house, could really do with the money. She has put her writing dreams on hold for her family. Her ‘requirement’ from Jacki is to write and have published a children’s book.
Mel (a disability support worker who is veritably unfit) must run in the Gold Coast Marathon, in a year’s time.
Jess (once married for a month, and thereafter unable to hold down a relationship) must be in a relationship for longer than three months.
If the girls ‘fail’ their tests, their inheritance will go to Aussie Animal Rescue.
After considerable shock and angst, Jacki’s daughters decide they will, at the very least, attempt to complete their decreed objectives.
This soul-enriching novel takes us on each Turner daughters’ journey, both inwardly and as they ‘put themselves’ out in the world.
Will Jacki’s instructions to the girls bond the girls closer together or tear them apart? Can they help eachother, or will they be obstacles to one another?
Who is Isla without all her vast wealth and position? Is Rose capable of writing a children’s book whilst living a frenzied and harrowing life?
Can Mel actually run a marathon when she can barely run at all? Is her friend Corey (the man she is secretly in love with) going to stick by her to help her thrive? Is Jess going to have the ‘gumption’ to stay in a relationship long-term?
Is Jess’s father, Darryl (a banana farmer from Cairns and the love of Jacki’s life) ever going to reappear in Jacki’s hour of need? Can the girls ever resolve their issues?
Michelle has written a superbly intricate and detailed novel, and an abundance of intelligence, wisdom, pathos and joy is to be found throughout this thoughtful and reflective book.
Bravo Michelle! Another Australian writer has made their mark in the literary scene with aplomb. I loved this book, and can’t wait to see what Michelle writes next.