Discover More About the Fortune Sisters

by Anna Lee Huber

While the core of the Fortune sisters’ stories and the fascinating anecdotes I uncovered about them form the backbone of Sisters of Fortune, much of the rest of their tale is pure fiction. As such, it is important to note the distinction that these characters are inspired by the Fortune sisters and are not meant to be a comprehensive historical representation. This is what we know about the real sisters.

  • Ethel Flora Fortune was the 28-years-old daughter of Mark and Mary Fortune of Winnipeg, Canada. She postponed her wedding to Crawford Gordon, a banker from Toronto, in order to embark on the grand tour with her parents and younger siblings, for whom she acted as a chaperone.
  • Ethel is reported to have balked at entering the lifeboats but was eventually persuaded to join her mother and sisters, most likely in Lifeboat 10. She returned home to eventually wed Crawford in 1913, and reportedly, they enjoyed a happy marriage together.
  • Ethel is the sister whose story I chose to alter most significantly for a few reasons, the main one being that Ethel’s tale is so similar to her younger sister Alice’s. I had at my disposal more details of Alice’s relationship with her fiancé, so I chose to keep her story intact, while I modified Ethel’s. Because of this, I changed Ethel’s name to Flora (her middle name) in order to highlight the difference, and also altered Crawford Gordon’s surname to Campbell.
  • Alice Fortune was 24 years old and engaged to lawyer Charles Holden Allen when the Fortune family set out on their grand tour. They wed when she returned on June 8, 1912.
  • In a twist stranger than fiction, Alice truly did receive an ominous fortune about being set adrift on ocean in an open boat from a soothsayer in Egypt on the verandah at Shepheard’s Hotel in Cairo.
  • Alice’s fiancé, Mr. Allen. is reported to have traveled to New York along with the eldest Fortune sister, Clara, and her husband, H. C. Hutton to meet the Carpathia and escort the Fortune women back to Winnipeg.
  • Mabel Fortune was the 23-years-old youngest daughter of the Fortunes, who had formed an undesirable attachment to the musician Harrison Driscoll from Minnesota. Her parents hoped that separating her from him for the duration of their grand tour would sever the attachment.
  • However, Mabel went on to marry Driscoll in 1913. They had one son, though the marriage did not last long. Mabel moved to British Columbia, living the rest of her life with another woman.

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 maiden voyage would transform their lives in profound and unexpected ways.

Fans of The Second Mrs. Astor by Shana Abé and Patricia Falvey’s The Titanic Sisters will be captivated as USA Today bestselling author Anna Lee Huber expertly weaves real historical figures and events into this vivid, surprising, emotionally powerful novel about the longing for independence and love—and the moments that irrevocably change even the best laid plans . . .

“Lush with sumptuous historical details and riveting as the events of that fateful voyage unfurl, readers will love this one!” Madeline Martin, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Keeper of Hidden Books and The Last Bookshop in London

“Vividly detailed and painstakingly researched, Sisters of Fortune threads fact and fiction into a compelling story.” —Bryn Turnbull, author of The Paris Deception and The Woman Before Wallis

Filled with luscious detail of the Titanic’s maiden voyage and spot on depictions of its many passengers, from the grand to the ridiculous…absolutely riveting until the very last page!” —Shelley Noble, New York Times Bestselling author of The Tiffany Girls

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 Mabel 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 . . .