I can’t remember where I first heard about The Family Fortune by Laurie Horowitz but I do know that I became interested because it’s a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I was glad to find a bargain copy in a Book Sale branch and when I went to the beach for a vacation, I decided to bring this with me because it seemed like the perfect light read. Also, look at that cover, doesn’t that make you want to read this book in a beach setting?
Here’s the summary from Goodreads:
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.
The last time I read Persuasion was in college so the details are a bit fuzzy. So because I can’t remember much of the original, I’m going to review The Family Fortune on its own and won’t be able to compare it to the classic. It was easy to relate to thirty-eight year old Jane Fortune, who is the quiet one in her family. The Fortunes are members of the Boston elite and while her father and sister make the most out of their social circles, Jane is content to curl up at home with a good book. She also manages a literary paper called the Euphemia Review, which is funded by the family’s foundation. Here’s a nice quote from the book that I’m sure all book lovers will appreciate:
“Usually when I enter a bookstore, I feel immediately calm. Bookstores are, for me, what churches are for other people. My breath gets slower and deeper as I peruse the shelves. I believe that books contain messages I am meant to receive. I’m not normally superstitious, but I’ve even had books fall from shelves and land at my feet. Books are my missives from the universe.”
While I did enjoy reading The Family Fortune, there were several things that kept me from loving it. I liked the flashback scenes where Jane shares how she and Max fell in love with each other years ago but I didn’t think there was enough reason for them to break up. Also, I could understand that Jane never really got over Max but it seemed like there wasn’t enough of the present Max to fall in love with in the story. Jane and Max didn’t have enough scenes together for them to reconnect and realize that there’s still something between them. I can’t even remember most of their conversations. The other secondary characters, like Jane’s colleagues in the Euphemia Review felt more fully fleshed out than Max. The romance wasn’t swoon-worthy and that’s an important aspect of the novel. I enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second half because it had such a promising start. It’s still a good read if you’re in the mood for something light or if you’re a fan of Austen retellings. Let me know in the comments if there are other Austen retellings that I should check out.