Five Fortunesby Beth Gutcheon
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Witty, wise, and hope-filled, Five Fortunes is a large-hearted tale of five vivid and unforgettable women who know where they've been but have no idea where they're going. A lively octogenarian, a private investigator, a mother and daughter with an unresolved past, and a recently widowed politician's wife share little else except a thirst for new dreams, but after a week at the luxurious health spa known as "Fat Chance" their lives will be intertwined in ways they couldn't have imagined. At a place where doctors, lawyers, spoiled housewives, movie stars, and captains of industry are stripped of the social markers that keep them from really seeing one another, unexpected friendships emerge, reminding us of the close links between the rich and the poor, fortune and misfortune, and the magic of chance.
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- 5.37(w) x 8.03(h) x 1.08(d)
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Stepping out to the curb in front of the Phoenix airport that November Sunday, Mrs. Albert Strouse, San Francisco matron of impressive age, was met by a welcome shock of heat. There had been a wintry dankness in the wind at home for weeks, which along with the artificial winter of the airplane cabin had settled into her bones. She adjusted her dashing new mango-colored sunglasses and basked.
A young woman in a jacket of a familiar blue appeared beside her. "Mrs. Strouse!"
"Cassie! How are you, dear?"
"Can't complain." Cassie took Rae's small suitcase and led her to the blue minivan waiting in the No Waiting zone. "You're my last lady. Do you mind riding up front with me?"
"Delighted. I'm good with a shotgun."
Cassie held the door while Rae hoisted herself into the front seat.
There were four other passengers already on board, none known to her. They exchanged nods of greeting with her, except for one fat one who either had jet lag or had enjoyed some cocktails on the plane and was slumped in the back with her eyes shut, looking like a failed popover.
Normally Rae Strouse loved a party. Normally Rae Strouse considered three strangers on a bus a festive gathering, but today as the van left the city behind she was just as glad to contemplate the afternoon light on the desert and let The Young behind her get on with their conversation.
The Young were apparently two childhood friends, now separated by husbands and children and distance, taking a week together. They were clucking over the guest list, looking for useful kernels of information, hoping they weren't going to regret not going to Aruba. New guests were always anxious abouthow it was going to be.
"Thirty-four, thirty-five, thirty-six. Thirty-six. Well that's a nice size. Group. That's a good group," said the dark one.
"Look, here's that woman Glenna Leisure. She's in W all the time."
"Yes, you know who she is. She's that one who was a stewardess, she married the leveraged-buyout guy?"
"Is that the one whose co-op got so upset about her Christmas tree?"
They fell silent as the van sped along toward the violet shadows of the Mazatzal Mountains.
"Is your sister coming with you this time?" Cassie asked Rae.
"No, we're taking a cruise later in the year. Mr. Strouse and I want to show her the Greek Isles."
"That sounds nice," said Cassie.
"We're looking forward to it."
There was another silence.
"A number of your pals from last time are back," said Cassie. Rae nodded. She was such an old hand by now that there were almost always guests she knew from earlier visits. She liked that, but even more she liked meeting new ones. It wasn't so easy at her age to meet new people, and it was important. The old ones kept dying.
The two friends behind her handed the guest list to the third woman, who now remarked, "Mrs. Alan Steadman . . . isn't that Megan Soule?"
Even Rae turned around at that.
"Megan Soule? You're kidding!"
"That's her married name," said the third guest. The two friends looked at her.
"Megan Soule, omigod, I love her! She was so cute in that movie, with Robin Williams . . . "
"I saw her in concert once. She was incredible."
"I've heard she's a really nice person."
"It says she's from Aspen."
"Well she isn't, but they do have a house there."
"But she lives in Malibu."
"Don't those friends of yours live in Malibu?"
"No, they moved."
The little van whizzed along over the desert.
"Well, this should be fun," said the plump blonde, sounding uncertain.
Forty minutes later the little van turned down an unmarked road winding among tall pines. It crossed an arroyo and stopped before a wooden door set in a high stucco wall. The pines cast deep shadows, and the sounds of the highway above and behind them seemed suddenly far away.
The driver rang a heavy brass bell hanging from the doorpost. It had a deep iron peal. Almost at once a young woman appeared through the carved door. Her name tag said jackie.
"Hello, Mrs. Strouse, welcome back," she said as Rae was handed down from the van. Rae passed through into a courtyard inside the walls, the first cloister. When the little door closed behind the group they seemed suddenly wrapped in stunning silence.
"Oh!" said the blonde. "So quiet . . . "
It took a moment to become aware that it was not silent at all, but filled with a subtle singing of crickets, of water playing somewhere nearby, of birds, of moving branches. This courtyard was built around a stone pool whose surface reflected trees towering around it.
Five Fortunes. Copyright © by Beth R. Gutcheon. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Meet the Author
Beth Gutcheon is the critically acclaimed author of eight previous novels: The New Girls, Still Missing, Domestic Pleasures, Saying Grace, Five Fortunes, More Than You Know, Leeway Cottage, and Good-bye and Amen. She is the writer of several film scripts, including the Academy-Award nominee The Children of Theatre Street. She lives in New York City.
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I was just interested enough in the characters that I wanted to find out how everything ended. I actually now kind of wish I'd gone ahead and moved on to something else instead. So many scenes and characters could have...should have...been more fully developed. The wasted potential of this novel makes me very sad and disappointed.
I really enjoyed More Than You Know by Beth Gutcheon, it is one of my absolute favorite books. Based on the fact that I enjoyed that book so much and after reading the reviews for Five Fortunes I had extremely high hopes for this one. I was seriously disappointed with Five Fortunes though and I really wanted to abandon this book before finishing. The charachters are ridiculous and the story lines are so cheesy and unbelievable. They're not even entertaining. There is a weak attempt at a ra-ra girl power theme, but it comes across as an absolute joke. I would definitely not recommend this one...
What a winderful time I had reading this book. Thank you Ms. Gutcheon! I am recommending this to my bookclub and I know they will love it as I have.
I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have read this book! I love that each time I read it I am reminded of the awesome bond between friends, not to mention what a little WOMAN power will get! I seriously enjoyed this read and have made it summer tradition for the past four years!
This was a great read. The characters were great. I laughed a lot and came close to tears at certain points. The story was very well written. If you love reading, read this book.
Although this wasn't the best written book I've ever read, I'd have to say it was great. There is a feeling of happiness and friendship that runs through this book. Basically, I think it's a feel good book.
This book started out strong but once they left the fat farm...the story and character plotlines fizzled. The author annoyingly jumped from character to character each chapter for no good reason. For this reason I couldn't get intersted enough to enjoy even one character. I could hardly believe the friendships they supposedly made because it was never developed! I had to force myself to finish this book.