The Family Fortune: A Novelby Laurie Horowitz
Jane Fortune's fortunes have taken a downturn. Thanks to the profligate habits of her father and older sister, the family's money has evaporated and Jane has to move out of the only home she's ever known: a stately brick town house on Boston's prestigious Beacon Hill. Thirty-eight and terminally single, Jane has never pursued idle pleasures like her sibling and
Jane Fortune's fortunes have taken a downturn. Thanks to the profligate habits of her father and older sister, the family's money has evaporated and Jane has to move out of the only home she's ever known: a stately brick town house on Boston's prestigious Beacon Hill. Thirty-eight and terminally single, Jane has never pursued idle pleasures like her sibling and father. Instead, she has devoted her time to running the Fortune Family Foundation, a revered philanthropic institution that has helped spark the careers of many a budding writer, including Max Wellman, Jane's first—and only—love.
Now Jane has lost her luster. Max, meanwhile, has become a bestselling novelist and a renowned literary lothario. But change is afoot. And in the process of saving her family and reigniting the flames of true love, Jane might just find herself becoming the woman she was always meant to be.
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The Family Fortune
By Laurie Horowitz
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright ©2006 Laurie Horowitz
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIn which we are introduced to Miss Fortune
I once knew a girl named Hope Bliss. How her parents didn't realize that they were putting a curse on her, I'll never know. I myself am a Fortune, from a long line of Fortunes, and though I am simply Jane, I live under the cloud of being Miss Fortune, though I prefer Ms.
At thirty-eight I still lived at home. I told myself I had good reasons for that, or at least excuses. My sister Miranda lived there, too, and she was almost forty, even older than I was. Ours was not an ordinary house. It was a stately town house in Louisburg Square, a prestigious and historic location on Beacon Hill. The only people who could afford to live there were the nouveaux riches and people like us.
Who were we, the Fortunes of Louisburg Square? We were the old-money aristocracy. During the time of the robber barons, the Fortune family was in textiles, but most of our money came later, from an array of fancy mustards. We had been, you could say, the condiment kings of the East. We had, however, sold the company to Basic Foods before I was born.
I had known boys who came out of the womb in dinner jackets and girls who could preside over high tea before they could speak in full sentences, but really, what was therelevance of that in the new millennium?
We old-money Bostonians were an anachronism, the Lost Tribe of the Wealthy, wandering through the desert of modern life, cut off from the world, never realizing that our days were numbered. We were a generation of dilettantes, trying our hands at cooking, weaving, pottery, always with a dwindling trust fund to back us up. Our creativity, our determination, and our will to succeed had been diluted by comfort. We existed on the complacent understanding that we never had to strive for anything. Our ancestors had been captains of industry, but some of us had never even held a job. Deep down, we knew we were becoming obsolete. Maybe that's why we, the old guard, kept such a tenacious grip on our way of life.
Louisburg Square is one of the stops on the many walking tours of Boston. The town houses in the square encircle a shared and gated park. The park is charming in all seasons -- snow-laden or bright with blossoms. Our square is, in its way, quintessential Boston with its bricks, bay windows, and cobblestones.
Though our house could have accommodated the entire string section of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the only people, besides my sister and I, who lived there were my father, Theodore Henry Adams Fortune III, whom everyone called Teddy, and Astrid Fonseca, our housekeeper and cook.
My younger sister, Winnie, was married and lived in a neighboring town with her husband, Charlie, and their two boys, but Miranda and I had never left. We were modern spinsters, remaining at home long after any self-respecting woman would have moved out.
Our mother died right after I graduated from college, and that's the time you are supposed to make plans for the next stage of your life. Whether it's graduate school, work, or simply a studio apartment in a questionable part of town, the big choices are upon you.
Somehow I never got around to making them.
Not long after my mother died, I fell in love with a man named Max Wellman. He asked me to move to California with him, but my mother's best friend, Priscilla, talked me out of it. She said that I'd ruin his life, which, looking back, doesn't say too much about what she thought of me at the time. Maybe she just wanted to keep me at home. Priscilla doesn't like change and I'm sure my mother's death was all the change she could tolerate.
After my mother died, Priscilla swept in to help our family get back on its feet. Who knows, maybe Priscilla was trying to cushion her own loss when she bought that apartment right around the corner on Mount Vernon Street. She and my mother had been best friends since they were children. Priscilla, who had been divorced for many years, made our family her own.
My father's most endearing quality is his awareness of his own limitations, so without my mother to guide him, he relied on Priscilla for all sorts of things -- mainly her judgment. Many people in our set thought Priscilla would marry my father after a respectable time. I knew better. Pris thought Teddy vain and foolish, though when my mother was alive, Pris put a good face on it. Later, she told me that my mother had been able to disguise many of my father's failings. That's what marriages are for, Priscilla said, to shield your partner from the world's bad opinion. I hoped that marriage was more than that. Priscilla said that if she had to listen to Teddy crack his knuckles -- one of his few unattractive habits -- for the rest of her life, she'd find a way to jump from the Hancock Tower.
"I swear to you," Priscilla said, "your mother died of boredom." No, I thought. It was definitely the cancer. "They looked like a perfect match, your mother and father. They each came from old Boston families. There was absolutely no opposition to their marriage even though, by today's standards, they were young. And your father was even more handsome then than he is now. And he was so charming. How could she know that the charm was the sum and total of it? Jane, I would never want that to happen to you."
I don't blame Priscilla, not really. I was twenty-three and could have made my own decision. I just wasn't strong enough to fight the opposition, which included not only Teddy but also Max's grandmother in Boca Raton.
Excerpted from The Family Fortune by Laurie Horowitz Copyright ©2006 by Laurie Horowitz. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Laurie Horowitz began her career as a lawyer in suburban Boston before moving to California, where she became an agent at Creative Artists Agency. She now divides her time between Santa Monica, California, and the Bitterroot Valley in Montana.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Laurie Horowitz has a knack for gentle left-handed humor. I found myself laughing, without expecting to. This is an enjoyable summer read with an almost predictable ending. She uses some great descriptive and choice words through the mouths and thoughts of her characters. The title alone is only humorous, once one delves into the heart of the story. A family story of entertaining and frustrating proportions. So glad to learn that it is not her own family she writes about, but one we would all love to kill.
First let me preface this by saying Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen book and I am always looking for good adaptations. This was one of the better ones, I stayed up all night to finish it and I truly feel the main character has the soul of Anne Elliot.
As an update of Jane Austen's "Persuasion", this is enjoyable, but the book also stands on its own for the family tale it tells. The title is cleverly chosen.
I read all the books I took with me on vacation and needed something for the flight home. I purchased 5 or 6 bargain books at B&N because I couldn't make up my mind. I'd like to apologize to Laurie Horowitz for not paying full price for this book. It would have been worth every penny of the full-price hard-cover edition. You can't help but root that Jane's practicality and level-headedness will reward her in the end. I'm a big Jane Austen fan, and like this modern version of Persuasion, every bit as much as Bridget Jones' Diary.
For anyone who enjoys reading a book with a simple plot, interesting and relatalbe characters, and a happy ending,this book is perfect. The writing style was easy to follow and I found myself loving the main character Jane. She reminded me of myself. I liked how independent she was and how she did not seem to really need anyone else to be content in life. I also liked how caring she was towardss everyone she knew.
This book was great. It was not a typical romance book where you know the ending half way through. The characters were described well and you felt sorry for Jane to have to put up with her self centered family. It was a quick easy read. It was easy to relate to a girl that loves to read books and not be in the limelite. I know exactly how she feels.
I haven't read Persuasion or any of Jane Austin's books, but I will now. I do love the movies based on her books. I love books that inspire me to read more and learn more.
Refreshing main character - perfect detail amt for each player - entertaining read. A quick enjoyable pool / beach read.
I absolutely love it when people modernize Jane Austen's work. Emma turned into Clueless, and Persuasion into The Family Fortune. Jane, the main character, is a loveable spinster that everyone can somehow relate in life, love, and work. You will be turning pages till you are at the end of the novel.
Okay, but not great, seems like the perfect rating for this book. I din't hate it didn't love it. Without having read Jane Austen's Persuiasion, on which it is loosely based, I could still get an 'Austenesque' feeling and could see how the story, writing, dialogue were all trying to mimic Austen's style and that was interesting - as compared to the characters, who were harder to appreciate as the book is full of the some of the most shallow characters around. They are so shallow, they just don't seem believable in the 21st century.... That said, an easy read and sort of a 'trying to be highbrow' chick-lit offering.
Extremely well written book and a delightful read.
Thirty-eight years old Boston Brahmin Jane Fortune is the owner-creator and editor of the highly regarded literary journal, Euphemia Review. However, as her once wealthy family is financially forced to leave prominent Beacon Hill, she wonders what she can do to help them though she has no idea where to start. Personally Jane ponders whether she will ever find love though at times she whimsically thinks of novelist Max Wellman and what could have been especially when perusing novels containing powerful relationships.---- Author Jack Reilly submits a superb story to the Euphemia Review literary contest that sparks Jane¿ interest in the unknown writer who showed so much talent. She feels obsessed to meet Jack, but as she struggles to find him, her mind wonders back to Max.----- Paying homage to Jane Austen's PERSUASION especially when Ms. Fortune wishes for true love to appear, chick lit fans will enjoy this fine contemporary tale. The story line at times feels schizoid between Jane's romantic desires and her family financial misfortunes with what happened to Jane the stronger plot than the lifestyle of the nouveau poor. Laurie Horowitz provides a fine tale and readers will enjoy Jane Fortune¿s adventures in love.------ Harriet Klausner