Thursday, October 21, 2010
Alice Hoffman:Fortune's Daughter
Fortune's Daughter is not an uplifting, fast-paced, feel-good novel. It's actually the exact opposite. It is slow, internal, and melancholy. And yet...
Alice Hoffman has written many noteworthy novels, and this is one of her quieter publications. Fortune's Daughter is a novel about motherhood, loss, empathy, relationships, story-telling, and ultimately, about human connection. Lila is a young woman who learns how to read tea leaves from an old fortune teller named Hannie. When Lila becomes pregnant, she aches for Hannie's companionship, but Hannie can see that Lila's future will be a struggle. Lila flees her home and does indeed struggle, only to find herself faced with Rae, who is a young pregnant woman in nearly the same position Lila once experienced. The lives of these two women intertwine and weave a beautiful, though heartbreaking story of love and loss, all for the sake of revealing just how important true connections are in each life.
Now the footnote. Do not read this novel if you have ever experienced a stillbirth or had to give a child up for adoption. The platform for this novel is the loss of a child through adoption or stillbirth. It is a difficult read, but I found it rewarding. There is also an underlying theme in this novel that illustrates how we sometimes perceive other's to be more like ourselves than they are. Lila relates to Rae so strongly that she fears for the life of Rae's child for no reason other than their similar circumstances.
Hoffman is a great writer, obviously well educated in the ways of breaking the hearts of her readers. She first pulls you in and makes you empathize with the characters until you care about them so much that your heart breaks as they discover the dark truths they had hidden from themselves.