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Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Fortune Quilt by Lani Diane Rich

I am a quilter, and so the title, The Fortune Quilt, drew me in first. I was delighted to find that this book was also a romance, with a touch of the "we're not in Kansas anymore" setting. Lani Diane Rich has written a fast paced story in a laid back setting where personal growth and family relationships are key themes.

Three sisters and a dad are abandoned by a postpartum-depressed mother who has named each daughter after a singer: Carly (Simon) is the eldest, Ella (Fitzgerald) the middle child who pleases all, and 'Fiver' who chose her own name from a Sesame Street episode 'brought to you by the number Five' because she was not happy with her given name (read the story to see what it was.) Carly, at twelve, takes on a number of maternal duties in the absence of her mother, missing much of her age-appropriate social involvements as a result. She becomes a strong, independent woman who is then unable to establish trust in romantic relationships.

The setting away from home that Carly chooses is so radically different from all that she knew, and in that Oz-like, technicolor place, she begins to discover her own and others' alternate life styles. Having lost her career job, she becomes a store clerk in an art supply shop, where she is befriended by a transgender owner who has left her psychic, quilt-making wife; she also meets a seventeen year old who has been adopted by two gay partners and who has far too much life-advice to share with Carly, right down to the cappuccino flavor of the day. She is surprised by her ex-fiance at her sister's wedding, and again surprised by her best friend's admission of love - all in the course of a few fast months in the Arizona foothills.

The quilt, and the fortune that accompanies it, plays a minor role in the story, but is key in helping Carly to both put aside her former rigid skepticism and open her heart to new possibilities. I did reach for a tissue at a few spots in the story, and did laugh out loud at others. Five stars for this unexpected treasure!

Oh -  by the way, this book has a different cover for the paperback version - though I don't think it does justice to the description of the quilt in the story.

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