cover image Fortune Is a Woman

Fortune Is a Woman

Elizabeth Adler. Delacorte Press, $20 (433pp) ISBN 978-0-385-30529-7

Adler follows up Peach and The Rich Shall Inherit with another glitzy roller-coaster saga. Using standard rags-to-riches ingredients, she gives us a trio of Cinderellas who suffer and survive their way to fortune, romance and a predictable happy ending. Set in turn-of-the-century San Francisco and Hong Kong, the novel tells the stories of lifelong friends Francie Harrison and Annie Aysgarth and of Francie's daughter Lysandra. All three are saintly women who've been hideously mistreated by the men in their lives. Indeed, virtually every male in this novel is either a brutal monster or a weakling. Fortunately, the misused heroines all fall under the benevolent influence of a mysterious Chinese mandarin, Lai Tsin; Francie, indeed, becomes his concubine. He guides them through their troubles and bequeaths them a legacy of worldly and philosophical riches. Though Adler's historical setting is appealing, the characters are stereotypes, drawn with no shades of gray, and they never come to life. The narrative drags where the author resorts to showing, not telling, and much of the plot hangs on bizarre coincidence. BOMC featured alternate. (Feb.)